In celebration of Fairhaven’s 50th anniversary of service to seniors, Penny Portman (far right), professor of health, physical education and coaching at UW-Whitewater, encouraged the staff to participate in a “Walk Across the United States” pedometer challenge. Portman is pictured with staff from the Office, Housekeeping, Social Service and Leisure Service departments of Fairhaven who have completed their part in the walking program.

By Dave Fidlin


Dozens of employees at a local senior living campus have been walking across the country – figuratively – as a demonstration of the health benefits associated with routine exercise.

In recent weeks, Fairhaven Senior Services staff members have been sporting pedometers as part of a challenge from Penny Portman, professor of health, physical education, recreation and coaching at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Portman created a challenge for the staffers: Collectively, walk the number of steps necessary to travel, by foot, from Whitewater to San Francisco, Calif. For fun, the group’s route was traced on a map that charted progress from one day to the next.

Two weeks into the competition, which launched earlier this month, the Fairhaven employees exceeded the goal Portman set out. Participants continue to rack up miles with their pedometers.

“It’s turned out to be a really neat program,” said Kathy Bolchen, Fairhaven’s marketing director. “There’s been quite a bit of enthusiasm.”

Each of Fairhaven’s four departments – office, housekeeping, social service and leisure service – received 20 pedometers. Employees have been switching off the measuring devices in two-week shifts.

Portman, who volunteers her time at Fairhaven each summer, hasn’t stopped with the employees. She also is aiming to get seniors active at the Fairhaven and Prairie Village campuses through a number of initiatives.

One such program is the Historic Walk through Whitewater tour that gives Fairhaven and Prairie Village residents an opportunity to take in some of the area’s most venerable sites. Some of the stops included the Hamilton House, Starin Mansion, Victoria-On-Main, Basset House and the Whitewater Hotel.

Bolchen said Fairhaven has partnered with UW-Whitewater in a number of ways, including a well-attended lecture series and opportunities for student engagement within one of the organization’s facilities.

“Fairhaven’s benefited a lot from the university,” Bolchen said. “The students have done quite a bit.”

The recent fitness-themed activities have been loosely tied to a milestone at Fairhaven. The organization is in the midst of celebrating its 50th year of service to seniors.

This fall, Bolchen said there will be a number of events planned, including an open house and tour of the facility Sunday, Oct. 14, and a formal dedication and celebration event planned for Sunday, Nov. 18.

Portman dubbed the recent exercise challenge, “50 years of walking in the right direction.” This summer has been her third at Fairhaven as she works to enhance resident wellness and exercise programs.




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