How ping pong is making a difference to one Willows Estate resident

Luis Martins often reminisces about his days playing the game while a soldier in the Portuguese army

If there’s one thing Willows Estate resident Luis Martins enjoys, it’s a good game of ping pong.

It’s a game he picked up as a young soldier in the Portuguese army. He and his fellow troops would ping pong to pass the time as well as to unwind from the stress that can come with a soldier’s life.

Today, ping pong is a game Luis loves to play at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home. He and Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda can sometimes be found playing a match or two.

While the Willows does not have a ping pong table, Azaria has fashioned one out of two tables and a portable net.

Azaria says he and Luis will have interesting conversations in between sets, often about Luis’s life growing up in Portugal.

“He recounts why he decided to join the army as a young chap, where in the world those mandatory training camps took him, including Angola, Brazil and other formerly owned Portuguese colonies,” Azaria tells The OMNIway.

While Luis is, by nature, a quiet man, a game of ping pong can be a vehicle that prompts him to open up and start talking, Azaria notes.

Lately, Luis and Azaria have been playing ping pong about once a week, and the time the two spend together playing the game has a positive impact on Luis, the LEA adds.

“It allows him to be active in both physical and mental ways,” Azaria says. “He’s able to, I find, express who he is and used to be.”

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