Here’s to Life certainly live up to their catch phrase of Fun, Friendship and Fitness…even during a worldwide pandemic!  The spirit and comradery of the Redlands’ Not-for-Profit Organisation, that specialises in programs for those in the community living with a disability and for ladies and gentlemen aged 40+ seems to be unbreakable.  Here’s to Life offers jazz dancing, tap dancing, drumming, singing, bone health, and art therapy classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Cleveland Memorial Hall each week.  And the gals and guys there are known for the sense of fun they inject into everything they do!

We asked Sue, how she and her staff of amazing instructors have been able to keep the organisation afloat during the Coronavirus pandemic.

‘As it was for everyone, the sudden closure of Here’s to Life came as quite a shock.  The Here’s to Life members come to us for any number of reasons, but one common thread is for exercise and companionship.  These two important factors are the two that are hardest to simulate in a non-face-to-face scenario; so just like so many other businesses we had to think outside the box to deliver programs.’

Sue and her Buff Bones ® instructor, Angela, quickly rallied before all travel and non-family contact was banned, to record all dance programs and routines, dancercise programs for those living with a disability, and bone health work.  They then created private social media groups for members to enable them to access their weekly classes.   For those who are motivated enough to use the arena, the fitness side of the organisation was sorted.  Instructors, Graeme, Anita and Kasey who teach Drumming, Singing and Art Therapy have diligently been posting exercises or projects in the forums for members to access.  Live feeds and impromptu stretch or technique sessions have also been offered.  Sue laughs as she remembers the first couple of attempts at using her phone to host these.  ‘Everyone got to either see just my legs from the knee down, or my face – you couldn’t have all of me at once.  Several sessions were completely blurry but the feedback everyone sent me was encouraging, and I persevered so that I now could do it in my sleep!  I think particularly the dancing ladies, got a better workout from laughing at my recording antics than from the actual dancing in those first couple of sessions.’

Thanks to the tech skills of a couple of Here’s to Life members, regular coffee catchups and the sneaky Friday glass of wine have also been a wonderful way for anyone who wanted to participate to just sit and chat.  Just as we do when we’re in the hall we laugh together, cry together, celebrate milestones together, hug each other (virtually of course) and support each other as much as we can.  ‘It’s important not to discredit the state of everyone’s mental health during the pandemic,’ Sue says.  ‘I know that several times participants have come into a virtual class or coffee feeling quite down, and have left feeling positive and happy once again.  And that means the world to me.’

Sue would like to thank all the Here’s to Life members who have so generously made donations to the organisation during this crisis.  As a Not-for-Profit organisation, our ability to regroup and reopen when restrictions are lifted relies solely on the generosity of the community and our members.

If you would like to know more about Here’s to Life please contact Sue on 0407 154 993.

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