Workouts keep Bishop Grady Villas residents active

CLOUD | Clapping and moving to Pharrell Williams sing “Happy”, residents at Bishop Grady Villas (BGV), a residential community for individuals with disabilities, found their groove. Thanks to digital technology, the residents exercise weekly with an instructor in Texas and another in Orlando.

The livestreamed classes began after the stay-at-home mandate took effect in Florida. Staff responded to the order swiftly and deliberately. “We had to act very quickly to lock down Bishop Grady Villas from the Governor’s order, for safety for our residents,” said BGV Executive Director Kevin Johnson. Acquiring enough personal protective equipment (PPE), requesting a leave of absence for working residents, and informing families of suspended visitation were top priority. Once in order, the focus was on keeping residents active, mentally and physically.

When she became aware of the quarantine, Ellen, whose niece lives at Bishop Grady, offered to do two weekly fitness classes to keep residents fit. A body builder with time on her hands due to the pandemic, she livestreams workouts via Google Hangout from her home in Texas for those craving physical activity. David Schumacher, BGV’s director of residential programs said he gives her “a heads up of each group skill level so she can determine the intensity of the exercise. Chair exercise or full body workouts.” He added, “We have been using common household objects for light weights or the resistance bands for residents that have a higher fitness level.”

Johnson said, “Although things like ending communal dining in Dorsey Hall has been difficult, we have tried to focus on new activities to keep residents occupied and happy while ensuring their safety.” The plan is working.

Board member, Elyse Mundelein, teaches Zumba when she is not working as an assistant at a local law firm. “I feel excited and happy to be on the board – to see everybody and to see my friends and share that anything is possible,” she said. The idea of teaching a Zumba class to Bishop Grady Villa residents was on her mind, but the quarantine emphasized the urgency. “I love doing Zumba with everybody!” she noted. “I love to teach, to help people exercise, have fun, and make them happy.” Open to all residents, almost a dozen attended the first class, April 20. Residents moved to the music, following Mundelein’s example.

“I like good exercise and doing things that keep me involved,” said Jessica, one resident who attended. She said she “loved dancing and doing new moves” and thought Mundelein’s class was great. Allyson agreed. “It was a new thing to do,” noted Allyson who enjoyed working out with her friends. “It was awesome and cool,” she added, smiling broadly.

Schumacher noted, “Our residents are quarantined on our campus per the current safety restrictions and practicing social distancing. The choice of participating with Elyse uplifts our residents’ body and mind. This activity allows them time to see other’s smile and share their love of Jesus and the joys of life with others in the community.”

“We are very blessed to have a very tech-savvy community and this allows our residents to FaceTime, call, etc. with their families who are currently limited from visitation,” noted Johnson. “I think the resilience of the residents is really amazing. For individuals who might have trouble understanding the full implications of the pandemic, they responded with faith and hope—often showing a patience and willingness to care for the common good of others in ways we are sometimes not seeing play out in the broader community. As always, they guide us with lessons on caring for others, trust, and strong faith.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic May 6, 2020