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Emmanuel residents, staff and visiting students enjoy Wii

DETROIT LAKES - The Nintendo Wii has become something of a cultural phenomenon over the past couple of years, bringing the video game into the 21st century by making it more interactive and accessible.

At Emmanuel Community, the residents of the nursing home and its adjacent assisted living facility, The Madison, recently acquired a pair of Wii systems for use by residents and staff.

The Wii is an especially popular addition for the students of Mrs. Gilson's class at Rossman Elementary School, who come to Emmanuel twice a month to visit with nursing home and Madison residents.

But the residents themselves have been somewhat more reluctant to embrace the new technology, according to Emmanuel activities director Brenda Labine.

"They prefer to watch," she said. "We've had the kids from Rossman come in and play, with some of our staff's children, and the residents will watch and cheer them on and clap, but right now it's more of a spectator sport for them."

About 12-15 residents have tried out the system for themselves, Labine added, but "we're encouraging more of them to try it."

Over at The Madison, housing manager Amy Dallmann said about a half dozen residents have tried out the system during a recent visit by the students from Rossman.

Among those who gave it a try were resident Suzy Rogstad and her niece, Betsy Norby, who was at The Madison for a visit.

"It was fun," Rogstad said. Though the current favorite amongst Madison and nursing home residents is bowling, Rogstad said she "tried my hand at tennis."

"I could never play tennis in real life, ever, though I took lessons in junior and senior high, and even college," she said. "I was good at individual sports like swimming and golf."

She also feels she could have been a good bowler, though she never tried it except for on the Wii.

"I did make the field hockey team in college," she added.

Dallmann said that there were only 5-6 Madison residents who showed up for the first Wii session, held last month, but she expects interest will grow as word-of-mouth spreads.

"All those who tried it said they would do it again," she said, adding that they may start up a little "friendly competition" between staff and residents as another means of generating interest.

"It takes a little coordination to learn when to push the right buttons," Labine said.

Norby, who said she enjoyed playing tennis during the first Wii session -- "she's really good at it," Dallmann added -- feels it was "a really great idea" to purchase the Wii system for residents' use.

"I have never played video games -- I don't like the controls -- but this (the Wii) is more real," she added. "It's very adaptive. You can bowl sitting down or standing up, depending on (whether you have a) disability. It seems like you can do lots of things with it."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454