Exercise science students collaborate with local seniors

He’s no Michael Jordan, and she’s no Bugs Bunny, but Kennesaw State University exercise science major Andrew Osemhen and Gaines Park Senior Living resident Roddy Kosmacek were the stars of “Exercise Jam!” a spoof of the 1996 movie “Space Jam.”

“Exercise Jam!” is the latest collaboration between Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Tiffany Esmat’s students and residents of Gaines Park. The video premiere was held at Gaines Park April 11 and was promptly posted to YouTube.

“Textbooks can teach them one thing, but they don’t give students the experience they need,” Esmat told the residents. “They learn from you, just like they learn in the classroom; maybe they even learn more from you.”

For the last six years, exercise science students have worked with residents of Gaines Park, visiting the facility for an hour and a half every Friday for eight weeks at a time. The students lead the seniors in various activities, including “sittercise,” dancing and the occasional bout of dodgeball. In this version, however, the seniors sit in a circle and throw balls at the students.

“We have the highest participation in our exercise classes on Fridays because that’s when the students are here,” said Jan Sessions, activities director for Gaines Park. “The students’ enthusiasm and laughter are contagious, and of course you know, laughter is the best medicine.”

During their studies, the exercise science students work with various populations, from pediatric to geriatric participants. Kennesaw State senior and “Exercise Jam!” actress Andrea Anderson thought she’d like working with young children best, but found she enjoyed working with the seniors more.

“This was way more fun,” Anderson said of working with the Gaines Park residents. “I enjoyed it a lot better. The people here were really great. They were fun to work with; they were funny. It was cool.”

Though the props budget was tight – a children’s plastic basketball goal was used for the shoot – Osemhen’s student co-stars, including Anderson, Toochi Enworom and Harrison Kish, were able to hold the goal high enough for him to dunk.

Osemhen not only plays a basketball player in the “Exercise Jam!” video, he also wears No. 45 for the Owls basketball team.

“The elderly are a lot of fun,” he said. “This experience has given me a good perspective of what it would be like to work with the older population. I just love them.”

-- Jennifer Hafer