One bright spot for older adults that emerged from the pandemic

The Y's Bright Spot program offers free online classes for exercise, art, reading, eating on a budget and more

A new online Zoom program called The Bright Spot created by the Greater Toronto YMCA really has become a bright spot for Hsioh-fan Stevenson.

“I’ve been getting the benefits tremendously from The Bright Spot,” says Stevenson, a senior from the Avenue Road and Davenport area. She takes the exercise classes.

The Bright Spot (TBS) offers about 20 classes in all. Other classes include book discussions, trivia, learning languages, eating well on a budget, and art for wellness, to name a few. All are free.

TBS is one of the few positive things to happen as a result of COVID-19. The Y had to shut down and management soon realized many regular members were feeling shut out of life.

“We had a lot of members we were reaching out to by phone and they were feeling kind of isolated,” TBS manager Samantha Casmey says. “They were missing coming to meetings in person.”

To make up for that, the Y started a virtual fitness class on Facebook and on YouTube. It was so successful it was decided to start The Bright Spot website with a particular focus on seniors.

“This was the group of people we were most concerned about,” Casmey says. “A lot of them were alone and they use the Y as their social connection.”

From there, TBS opened up to the general public. It’s available everywhere.

“We’ve had people from Alberta. We’ve had people who go on vacation in Florida and log in,”  Casmey says.

TBS has a current following of 800 to 900 participants a month.

The classes are interactive but participants don’t have to show themselves or speak. You can just observe if you want to, Casmey says.

It’s been a ‘lifesaver’

As for Stevenson, she’s happy with her fitness instructors.

“They’re all very good, that’s one of the big pluses,” she says. “They’re all very friendly.”

She plans to soon attend the Central Y in person. She’s been a member there for more than 40 years. But she’s still going to continue with the TBS classes.

“They’ve become my daily routine,” Stephenson says. “During the pandemic they’ve been a lifesaver for me. They make me feel I’ve made my day.”

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Posted: Mar 10 2023 11:54 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto

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