Keystone Games

The Keystone Games are currently planning the PA Senior Sports Festival & Health / Fitness Expo in Lancaster, PA during the month of October.

Keystone games hopes to use this event as an opportunity to introduce esports and games to their senior athletes as well as a variety of traditional sports offered at the PA Senior Games and National Senior Games.

Keystone Games will be working with the K.A.R.E.S. Community throughout the summer months to introduce fitness and sports activities through the KARES social media platform. It’s fitting we launch this new initiative in May, which is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

The K.A.R.E.S. Community is a national online network of members of all ages that communicate and participate with one another in a variety of social and recreational activities.

The mission of K.A.R.E.S. is to help individuals, especially seniors, stay connected while combating isolation during times of social distancing. The K.A.R.E.S. Community’s focus is on the whole individual’s wellness – physical, mental, emotional and social.

Members will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities online, as well as in person, once social distancing guidelines are lessened. The key to the K.A.R.E.S Community is that we will never be apart again. We are in this together, and together we will stay active, stay healthy, and stay connected.

Social isolation and loneliness among older adults is one of the most serious health issues facing our country today. Combatting that problem is the goal of a new public-private partnership – the K.A.R.E.S. Community (Keystone Athletics, Recreation and Esports), which will use virtual technology to bring Pennsylvania seniors together for Esports and electronic gaming fun.

KARES’ partners include its founder, health technology and innovation consultancy, EnableHealth; the PA Esports Coalition; Pittsburgh’s Jewish Healthcare Foundation; Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute; Athletes for Care; RTI International; the KNGDM Group; the PA Office of Rural Health and the Keystone State Games, among others.

Partnership leaders note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is nearly impossible for seniors, especially in rural areas, to congregate.

Technology and virtual gatherings, however, have made it possible for older adults to remain engaged and maintain social connections.

The objectives of this initiative are to leverage technology to enable seniors to participate virtually in friendly competitive sports and games in a fun and healthy environment.

About 28% of older adults in the United States, or 13.8 million people, live alone, and in a 2018 survey of 20,000 participants conducted by Cigna, nearly half (46%) of those surveyed reported that they felt alone sometimes or always.

Perhaps no other age group feels the keen sting of loneliness more than seniors — a condition only exacerbated by COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) agrees, adding that loneliness can also have clinical consequences.

Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Conversely, according to the NIH, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve cognitive function.

The Initiative is currently identifying potential projects and partners from across PA, and has the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, which recently published the results of a statewide survey. The survey was conducted by the Pennsylvania Council on Aging and sought to assess how older adults have been managing through the current pandemic. The survey reported that more than 25% of the 3,700 respondents said they would like to take advantage of virtual gaming if given the opportunity.

“Older Pennsylvanians enjoy sports, games and other ways to socialize and congregate for fun and fitness,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging, Robert Torres, “I applaud the work of KARES, which seeks to safely and positively engage our senior community through the pioneering application of Esports and virtual gaming. I’m particularly encouraged by thier initial project which seeks to expand recreational opportunities for older adults through a partnership with the Keystone State Senior Games.”

“The Pennsylvania Esports Coalition is also excited to work with the other partners on this initiative to bring the inherently social nature of Esports to a demographic that will no doubt benefit from the entertainment and technology the industry brings,” said Bill Thomas, Chairman of the Coalition. “The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need to do a better job of addressing isolation in our older adult population, and we believe strongly that Esports and competitive video gaming can be a significant part of the solution.”

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