Wyoming elders dance write to keep the winter blues away / Public News Service

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As the cold, dark days of winter set in, AARP Wyoming has launched a series of fitness, writing, and other creative classes to help people connect and have fun.

Jennifer Baier, AARP Wyoming’s assistant director for community outreach, said after surveying its 80,000 members, it was clear that fitness classes were a big priority.

She said people have signed up for classes in stretching, strength and balance, chair and restorative yoga, tai chi and line dancing.

“And all of these classes are taught by instructors with decades of experience,” Baier said. “Because that’s the other thing our members told us was that they really wanted fitness instructors who looked like them. So, for example, our line dancing instructor is 71 and she’s fabulous.”

All courses are free and open to the public, and can be viewed remotely from the comfort of your home at AARP.org/WY.

Baier said people who don’t have broadband internet can still participate. She said most local libraries offer fast internet and study rooms.

People can also join events over the phone.

Baier said coming together for classes, even remotely, helps introduce participants to new friends, whether they’re in Cheyenne, Sheridan or anywhere in between. Baier said it was also a good way to keep the risks of social isolation at bay.

“Social isolation is a death sentence for some people,” Baier said. “It’s been compared to smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day. It’s basically very detrimental, especially as we get older.”

A six-week writing course, taught by published Wyoming author Carole Martin, will focus on participants’ personal stories set in Wyoming. Baier said the results will be published in a book and there are plans for a series of public readings at libraries.

Baier said the feedback so far has been only positive. She said the chat window was overflowing after this week’s line dancing class.

“So many people said it made them feel young again,” Baier said. “They said they haven’t danced in years, it’s so much fun. They can’t wait to come next week and master any steps they might have missed this week. And so they really form a community around it, we’re really excited about it.”

Disclosure: AARP Wyoming contributes to our fund for reporting consumer issues, health issues, housing/homelessness, seniors issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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