At first glance there would appear to be nothing odd about the squeals of laughter coming from this brand-spanking new playground in Manchester. But on closer inspection, the average age of the people swinging and playing on the brightly-colored pieces of equipment would appear to be rather on the high side. That is because this is the UK's first outdoor playground for the over-60s.
60 going on six: Vivien Backhouse and Peggy Yuill go for a swing in the Older People's Play Area in Dam Head In a bid to help keep its aging population healthy, limber and happy, a residents' association in northern Manchester, with help from a local housing firm, have built a playground designed to keep its more elderly members flexible. It cost £15,000 to build and it was officially opened yesterday in Dam Head Park, Blackley, after being tested by locals aged over 70. Six pieces of specially designed equipment provide gentle exercise for different parts of the body such as hips, legs and torso. Local resident Joan Fitzgerald stretches her legs in the playground Joan FitzGerald, 76, chair of the local residents association, told the Manchester Evening News: "When we first went in all the people in there were over 70 and I have never heard so much laughing before. "Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, which is important because a good laugh makes the day. "I believe you are never too old to play and this also keeps you active. "The exercises are very gentle. There is one machine that makes you feel like you are doing the jive, but if you stay on it too long you end up walking home looking like a drunken idiot. "The playground provides great activity for older people and people need to be more active." The association got the idea after having heard about a similar scheme in Germany. Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: "A well-designed fitness park could be a great way to encourage older people to exercise and socialize. "Exercising a few times a week can make a big difference to someone's health and doesn't have to be strenuous. Equally, socializing with others can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression. "Many older people aren't exercising enough and we are really keen for local authorities to offer a range of accessible and affordable facilities that promote physical activity in later life."
The 250-pound eraser is real rubber. The lead is 4,000 pounds of Pennsylvania graphite. The exterior matches the yellow hue of a classic No. 2. Guinness World Record maker and breaker Ashrita Furman considered every detail when he built the world's largest pencil — except, perhaps, how to sharpen it. "We thought about making the world's largest pencil sharpener, but we ran out of money," Furman said. Furman escorted his 22,000-pound, 76-foot-long pencil to its new home at the City Museum in St. Louis on Monday. Furman cut the pencil in two for the trip from Queens, New York; City Museum artisans will reattach the sections soon.
Neighbors surrounded the home of a 93-year-old woman to trap a burglar who climbed in through a window. Fifteen residents of Greenwich Avenue, Basford, dashed to help their partially-deaf neighbor when one spotted raider Brian Bennett go through a bathroom window. Some watched the back of the semi-detached bungalow while others stood by a gate on the drive, preventing Bennett from leaving. They could see him going through various rooms in the house. "He didn't dare come out", said the local Neighborhood Watch co-coordinator. He was running around the house. He didn't know what to do."Bennett, 39, of Lathkill Close, Bulwell, a convicted robber, gave himself up when the homeowner opened the front door for him, and he walked out. At Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Michael Stokes, QC, Recorder of Nottingham, sentenced Bennett to four years for two burglaries. Awards of £200 each were made to five residents in Greenwich Avenue for their bravery.
A Nottinghamshire postman is struggling with his own colossal cranium - because he can't find a cycle helmet to fit. Jason Clay, 40, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, has worked for Royal Mail for 20 years. For the past three years, he has used his bike to deliver mail to homes across Sutton-in-Ashfield but a recent change in the company's health and safety rules means he's required to use a helmet.
But, despite exhaustive searches of major chain stores and the internet, the best Mr Clay has found is a 25in XXL helmet from America. And even that doesn't fit. It means he has to walk a new round with a trolley and it is taking an hour longer than usual. "I have always had a problem with hats," said Mr Clay, from Chatsworth Street. I got fitted at a tailors once and he measured my head and said it was the biggest he'd ever seen.
Friday night, police in Kissimmee were trying to solve the mystery of a man hurt in a traffic accident. In his lucid moments, he's told his doctors in Spanish, he thinks he's from Mexico and was born in December, 1939. That would make him 68 years old.
"After about 18 years, I can't think of any other traffic related homicide investigation that we've had where we had anybody who wasn't identified," said Lt. John Lewis of the Kissimmee Police Department.
No one has reported a missing man matching his description. If he's homeless, no local police officers or social workers recognize him.
Kissimmee police plan to fingerprint the John Doe.
It was last November 19, just after 6:00pm. The victim was standing on the median of East Vine Street. As he went to cross the westbound lanes near Michigan Avenue he was struck by a 20-year-old woman driving a Jeep.
No charges were filed against the driver. The accident report only lists him as unknown.
A private investigator the hospital hired has not been able to trace his relatives through any tattoos or other physical characteristics. He does have one outstanding feature; he has two silver teeth.
"Thank god he's still alive, but we'd still like to know who he is," said Lewis.