Volunteer Special: Tai Chi with Sharon Shond

By Walsh and Beck | Posted: Friday August 30, 2019

Walmsley House Tai Chi instructor Sharon Shond leads a weekly class for our aged care residents, helping them to get active no matter what their ability.

Sharon was first introduced to Tai Chi in 2007 when her mother was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease and she set out to try and find an activity that could help keep her mother active without pushing beyond her limits. Sharon found an over 65 Tai Chi class and attended with her mother. Even though she was only 38, she found that her arthritis benefitted massively from the gentle exercise. 

After her Tai Chi teacher couldn’t attend a few classes, Sharon took control of leading the classes and soon started to teach her own. Whilst in Dunedin, she worked closely with Aged Care Providers, helping provide Tai Chi classes for their Falls Prevention Programme. This was when Sharon started to realise the full benefits of Tai Chi for the elderly. 

When she moved to Invercargill Sharon taught a class and ran into someone she had met a few years prior, who mentioned that her mother was blind and was in Walmsley House – explaining that she would benefit from Tai Chi and so Sharon took this opportunity and went along to teach. 

From that point on, Susan became a regular teacher at Walmsley House and now helps residents to improve their flexibility, coordination, strength and balance through weekly Tai Chi classes. Residents have reported on some of the biggest benefits they have seen from taking up Tai Chi, from increased strength and balance, to better sleep. 

When talking about working with Enliven, Sharon said, “It’s humbling to go and teach the residents, it makes you more mindful of your own health and what it will be like when you get to be their age. It allows you to think about how looking after yourself now can have an impact on you as you age.” 

Sharon has been volunteering for a number of years and has expressed how much she would love to bring Tai Chi to other Enliven homes, to further help the elderly improve their day to day wellbeing.