LES Elders who organized their own T’ai Chi class
Left row (front): Lily Li, Kwei Sim Wong, Elvie Roman, Joyce Ravitz, Kay Mantin. Middle Row: Orlando Sánchez, Karen Liang, Amy Ma, Sandy Wu, Terry Tam. Right Row: Margaret Lin, Nancy Rose Bartow, Yeeso Leong, Francis Sussman, Peter Lung.
Photo: Victor Llorente
After Grand Street Regulation, a community center on the Lower East Side, suspended its senior programs in March 2020, Kay Mantin, 74, missed the daily tai chi classes she had attended for the previous 11 years. “Tai chi helps with memory,” says Mantin. “It is important at our age to keep the mind alert. A few months after the lockdown, Mantin got a call from her friend and neighbor Alice Cheng, a volunteer instructor at Grand Street. Many of his students also lived in their apartment complex; why not organize an outdoor tai chi class? For the past 15 months, the class has met almost every morning at eight o’clock (in winter, they wore down jackets). On June 1, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York’s 249 seniors’ centers could finally reopen on June 14, but the date seemed tight: providers only had a few weeks to figure out how to put new protocols in place. health and safety, and they did not know where the funding for equipment like new HVAC units was coming from. For now, Mantin and his friends are continuing their sessions, an antidote to the loneliness induced by the pandemic. “We cannot live without tai chi; otherwise, we’ll slow down and get smaller and older, ”says Orlando Sánchez. “This is how we keep moving forward.