By Tracy F. Seelye, Express editor and Kristy Zamagni-Twomey
With daily routines interrupted or halted due to coronavirus-forced school — and some business — closures, house-bound residents are being offered a variety of coping outlets.
Residents across many local communities are also trying to add a little sunshine during what could otherwise be a gloomy time.
Children are being challenged to create rainbows and hang them in the windows of their home. Then, while safely practicing social distancing, families can go on a rainbow hunt either on foot or from their vehicles.
In addition to rainbows, some have taken to placing hearts on their doors or windows as a way of thanking the healthcare workers and others on the front lines of this pandemic.
Corey Hickey and Brooke Scriven, owners of On Stage School of Performing Arts in Whitman, were quick to respond, temporarily suspending physical classes on March 14 and launching a Zoom site with virtual dance, theatre, and voice classes available to her clients before the start of the next week of classes.
Hanson residents Brett Miller and Anna Dunbar, of 110 Fitness in Rockland, have been using a “Cast Away” theme to keep their clients, especially Parkinson’s patients who participate in their Rock Steady Boxing program, engaged and healthy.
Whitman Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Timothy J. Grenno and Police Chief Timothy Hanlon have shared tips to help residents alleviate any stress and panic surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) while people practice physical distancing.
“We’ve gotten such wonderful feedback from our On Stage parents thanking us for staying connected in such a personal way, calling us one of the few bright spots in the past week,” Hickey said of the On Stage offering, which took working 12 to 24-hourdays on Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15 to organize. This past week, the staff at On Stage stayed connected with their students by sending technique videos, strength and conditioning classes, and choreography. Sometimes the parents took the classes and challenges right along-side their children.
Starting Monday (March 23), Hickey and Scriven will be adding the live component that will include real-time classes with On Stage faculty, Q&A sessions, and special guest artists from Broadway exclusively to On Stage students.
“We asked some of our Broadway friends to teach virtual classes as a special treat to our kids who were really missing their classes at On Stage,” Hickey said. This will be in addition to the content already posted, which includes story time videos, challenges, sheet music, and vocalizing.
“That means more to us than they will ever know,” Hickey said of the positive parent feedback they’ve received. “In times of crisis, it’s important to keep some normalcy and structure for children. It’s vital to keep a connection with their teachers and friends.”
Help for parents
On Stage Dance Director Jenna Liberty has also added a yoga class as a way to offer parents a self-care opportunity.
Dunbar is also offering remote yoga instruction, said Miller, owner of 110 Fitness.
“We are all being told to stay home and to keep our immune systems healthy,” said Miller, who is also a physical therapist. “Part of keeping our immune system strong is continuing to exercise. Exercise is great for our mental health too as it decreases stress and anxiety by releasing chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine into our bodies. This is why I am adamant about creating and sharing these virtual workouts.”
Cost — especially for those dealing with a job loss or furlough — should not be a barrier, according to Miller.
“I also know that everyone is starting to struggle financially, which is why I am providing these workouts at no cost and anyone can access,” he said. “You do not have to be a 110 member to do these workouts at home.”
The workouts shared by Rockland-based110 Fitness are for all populations and include boxing, yoga, drumming, high intensity interval training, plyometrics, and strength and conditioning. However, one of 110 Fitness’s largest populations are individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.
“Lack of exercise and isolation along with stress and anxiety will exacerbate their symptoms,” Miller said. “This is why it is crucial for these members to access the virtual workouts by 110 Fitness and to keep moving. We want to keep them connected and we want to keep them fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease.”
Search “110 Fitness” on YouTube to access the free virtual workouts. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-616-3313.
Grenno and Hanlon, meanwhile, have emphasized that the COVID-19 outbreak and fear of becoming ill can cause stress and panic for people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are many ways to manage anxiety and stress about the situation:
• Share the facts about COVID-19 to understand the actual risk to yourself and other individuals. When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them. Avoid posting or re-posting unverified information, claims, bogus medical information or conspiracy theories, as it only works to heighten emotions.
• Take breaks from listening, watching and reading the news.
• Tend to your body. Stretch, mediate and take deep breaths. Try to eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Try to do other activities that are enjoyable.
• Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
• Reassure children and teens that they are safe and that it is okay if they feel upset or stressed.
• Be a role model to children and teens. Connect with friends and families while abiding to social distancing standards, including the use of video calling services like FaceTime.