June 26, 2009
Seniors go "bowling" at the library

GOFFSTOWN - A small group of seniors practiced their bowling skills at Goffstown Public Library yesterday, and thanks to the Nintendo Wii, they were able to avoid all the hassles of renting shoes, finding a correctly sized ball or waiting for a lane.

They were part of the library's first Adult-Only Wii Drop-In hours, from 2 to 4 p.m., part of the library's adult services and outreach program. The Nintendo Wii is a video game system whose game Wii Sports allows users to simulate the actual motions involved in sports ranging from tennis to boxing.

Flash Labbe, 80, called the library as soon as he had seen the flyers for the event: he wanted to train at bowling so he could show off his skills to others in his age group.

Click to view Goffstown residents trying out Wii bowling

"I want to go back to the senior center and beat them up," he said.

There was one youngster among the group: Hunter Gendron, 10, who was volunteering to help teach the adults how to play the game as part of the J-Libs, or junior librarians, volunteer program.

"It's a great way for the young kids to come in and interact with some of the older folks," said Sandra Whipple, coordinator of adult services and outreach at the library. "It's a great way for us to learn from them." 

Marie Boyle, 78, watched as her ball kept curving to the left, just as it does whenever she goes candlepin bowling.

"Oh, that curve again," she said.

"You have that when you're bowling," her husband, Hank, 77, said.

"I know, but this isn't real bowling!" she replied.

Hank Boyle knocked down nine pins on his first toss of one frame, but missed the spare.

"You can't have it all," said 80-year-old Esther Allen, who was watching.

"No," Boyle replied. "Where would you put it?" 

Whipple said the library decided to try Wii for adults after seeing the gaming system become popular in other places, like nursing homes and rehabilitation or retirement centers. But the playing time is not just for seniors, she said, but for "any adults that want to have a little bit of relaxation and recreation." She said the gaming system was a good way for older adults to stay connected to technology and to recreate and socialize.

"It is related to something they know. Most people have gone bowling at least once in their life," she said. "You don't really have to understand video games." 

Most of the seniors present had seen the game before, but had not played it much. 

Marie Boyle said she had bowled one or two frames at a Local Government Center event; Allen had seen it a rehabilitation center; Labbe had seen it at a hospital when he was getting back surgery.

"I just think it's fun," Marie Boyle said. "I've tried the baseball, too. That's another one that's fun." 

Soon enough, the seniors were tossing their own strikes and spares, and even knocking down some difficult splits.

"Strike!" Lebbe called out after one effective throw. "Hunter taught me everything I know." 

In one game that saw the Boyles, Hunter and Labbe competing, Hunter bested his students, with Labbe coming in second.

"Good," Labbe said. "Almost the champ." 

But he was not to be underestimated. In his third game, Labbe managed to best his teacher, winning with a score of 155.

"I'm the champ!" he called out loud enough to be heard on the other side of the library's third floor.

Lebbe said his training would come in handy at the next game at the senior center.

"My girlfriend plays over there. She gets something like Hunter's (score)," he said.

But Labbe was determined to be the champ there, too.

"I'm going to beat her," he said.

The library has scheduled hold two more Adult-Only Wii Drop-In Hours on July 20 and July 27, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.


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