As the 2016 summer heat slowly yielded to fall’s temperate days, Becky Sullivan, a local dance instructor with years of experience in the industry, reached out to Friends Life Community with a simple question:
“Do you need any volunteers?”
Becky had been involved with Friends Life Community (FLC) before. “I led the Friends in a group dance for a Friends Life Luau in 2013,” Becky recalls. But she wanted to volunteer on a regular basis.
“We began discussing the best way for her to be active in our community,” says Marci Patricelli, our Program Manager, “and teaching a weekly dance class was a perfect addition to our Health & Wellness program.”
Our Health & Wellness program targets physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This includes helping our Friends become more active, achieve a healthy weight, and maintain healthy living practices all year ’round.
“We don’t just want our Friends to learn the benefits of exercise,” says Jim Victor, our Specialist for Health & Wellness, “we want them to enjoy it, and to enjoy it enough that they exercise at home and on weekends, too.”
Becky Sullivan was more than happy to accept the challenge. Every Tuesday, Becky brings music, props, costumes, stickers and prizes, and even extra volunteers to Friends Life Community and gets our Friends and staff dancing for one full hour, teaching choreographed routines and new dance moves.
“I love that Ms. Becky gives us stickers, and my favorite dance is the ‘chicken dance,'” says our Friend, Keonna.
Staff saw instant impact. Our Friends wear step trackers everyday during exercise hour, and during Becky’s Tuesday classes, the number of steps taken by each Friend continues to improve across the board. “What makes Becky’s class so effective is that she’s found ways to motivate the Friends who struggle the most to get excited about exercise,” Jim says. “It’s amazing. We’ve seen more improvement among [the Friends who struggle to be active] than any others.”
As for Becky, our Friends are all the motivation she needs. “They are amazing and bring me so much joy! It is so much fun to watch more and more Friends engage and participate in class each week. To see and hear how much fun they are having makes me so thankful for the opportunity to be with these incredible individuals.”