Seniors, kids’ events return to Lone Tree

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Programs interrupted by COVID-19 shutdowns are starting to return to the Lone Tree Wellness Center, including the senior functional fitness class and kids’ workshops and events.

The senior fitness class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. The class features light group exercise lead by certified senior fitness instructor Tom Dickey and is designed to allow for a variety of fitness and ability levels in seniors over the age of 62.

Jan Ipsen had previously attended fitness classes at the wellness center, but Sept. 8 was her first time returning to Dickey’s class in over a year. She said she hopes attending the class will put her back in the routine of exercising regularly.

“I’m a big believer that most of us don’t have the self-motivation to keep us going and stay consistent with exercise,” Dickey said. “A group class is good for that. I think if you see other people with you, see that they’re enjoying it, and you have an instructor that’s encouraging you, it can make a big difference.”

Helen Baker, who regularly attended Dickey’s class pre-pandemic, said she missed it during the shutdown for both her physical and mental health.

“When I was stuck at home, I tried to do some of the exercises on my own, but it really wasn’t the same,” she said. “I missed coming here and seeing people socially while also getting some exercise.”

Dickey said one of his biggest concerns during the class’s hiatus was the seniors not getting out and getting moving.

“I really think exercise is one of the best things to do to build your immune system,” he said. “Exercise can help people fight off certain types of illnesses — if they would happen to get the virus, then they have the strength to fight it off.”

While Dickey is focused on keeping the seniors healthy, Wellness Center staff member Janelle Terhune is designing programs to keep Lone Tree’s younger citizens occupied, too.

She organized the Apples 2 Apples kids workshop on Sept. 12, which included apple tasting, arts and crafts, a science experiment, games, and even a homemade treat to take home.

“I think it’s so important for these kids, especially now, to get out of the house and experience learning in an engaging way,” Terhune said. “School and other activities might look different for them this year, but we want to make sure they still have opportunities to do fun things they might not be able to do at home.”

The Apples 2 Apples workshop was open to all ages, which created the challenge of providing activities that catered to a large age range of kids.

“With our programing, we wanted to include activities for every age,” Terhune said. “We try to include some simple things, like coloring and running races, for the younger kids while still having more advanced things, like the science experiment, to catch the attention of the older ones.”

Kids events will be held the second Wednesday of every month going forward and are open to all K-6 students from Lone Tree and beyond. The September event, which reached registration capacity days ahead of time, features lessons about butterflies provided by the Johnson County Conservation Board. The October event will be held Oct. 14. Information will be available on the wellness center’s Facebook and website.

Wellness Center Coordinator Carmen Donovan said the ongoing pandemic has posed challenges, such as participant limits and mask requirements, but the kids have been resilient so far.

“We’re having to do things a little differently nowadays, but we’re still making sure activities are running and available,” she said.

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