In a small rural community on the Eastern Plains, about 180 miles from Denver, a group of individuals had a vision to create a health, educational, wellness and activities center benefitting the entire community. The city of Wray, population 2,000, had outdoor facilities such as a public pool and sports courts, but nothing that could be utilized year-round. In 1992, this changed with the opening of Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center, better known as the WRAC.
The WRAC is a multifunctional facility offering physical fitness services, wellness and in-house physical therapy services and functions as a community center. There is no other facility quite like it between Greeley, Colorado and North Platte, Nebraska. With more than 52,000 visitations in an area that has a population density of four persons per square mile, it is not far-fetched to say the WRAC touches on the lives of nearly all who reside within the area.
A typical weekday begins when guests arrive just after 5 a.m. to attend adult fitness classes or to workout individually. Wray Physical Therapy opens their doors to patients in the early hours and accommodates those in need of therapy throughout the day. Later in the morning, seniors can be observed enjoying the center’s warm water therapy pool while being led through exercises designed to help them remain physically active. Around noon, a group of high school students gather with local seniors in one of the meeting rooms to enjoy a regular intergenerational party. Then after school, kindergarten through eighth grade youth arrive to participate in the PHIT (Physical Health Initial Tasks) program where the goals are teaching youth the benefits of physical activity and good nutrition. In the evening, guests attend fitness classes, walk laps on the walking track or complete a circuit on the full line of fitness equipment. At the same time, a local scouting group gathers in one of the meeting rooms to welcome new scouts and leaders.
Weekends are similar yet different. Entire families come to the WRAC to utilize the many aspects of the facility together; playing basketball and racquetball or working out together. During certain times of the year, there is swimming instruction for toddlers and gymnastics lessons for youth. Families and friends also frequently gather in one of the meeting rooms to celebrate a birthday, graduation or an impending wedding. The WRAC truly is a community hub for health, wellness and fitness services.
A retired teacher soon found herself with too much time on her hands. She had been active and walked regularly. It was also around this time that she noticed a marked impact of arthritis on her daily life and began working through a series of appointments at Wray Physical Therapy. She admitted, “Before being a member of the WRAC, I was not very knowledgeable of my health state.” It was luck, according to her, that during her last therapy appointment she had the opportunity to enroll in one of the warm water aquatics classes held at the WRAC. These classes are limited to six students and there just happened to be one opening which she promptly filled.
A few years have passed since then and that retired teacher continues attending water classes. In addition to this, she spends equal time on the indoor walking track and strengthening her muscles on a variety of fitness equipment. “I am much more knowledgeable of my health state and feel more positive about my health every day,” she stated.
Just as important as the programs and services provided by the WRAC are the opportunities for social interactions between the guests and the staff.