Staying indoors? Manitobans offer opportunities to learn, laugh and work out online

By | March 22, 2020

With health officials asking people to maintain a safe social distance of two metres from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19, schools, businesses, and entertainment venues are shutting down across Manitoba — but that hasn’t stopped some Manitobans from finding creative ways to connect. 

Teachers, comedians and small business owners are among those creating online resources to help Manitobans who are staying safe and healthy indoors. 

Fitness studio Sculpt Barre Winnipeg is offering a free daily online class after shutting its doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Owner Tess White has created a dedicated Instagram account where she posts a live barre class (a fitness routine that incorporates ballet techniques and the use of a ballet barre) every morning for the public. 

As a single mom, White says the decision to temporarily close her studio was a challenging one. The studio, on Lorimer Boulevard just east of Kenaston, isn’t just a vital source of income for her, but also a positive space for the community.

“It’s always been everyone’s happy place,” she said. “In a time like this it’s really tough to lose that.”

WATCH | Tess White leads an online barre class:

Winnipeg barre instructor Tess White is practising social distancing but closing her studio during the coronavirus outbreak, but is creating videos for her followers. 1:03

That’s why she felt it especially important to keep providing a way to exercise and relieve stress to Manitobans during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, and so I felt I have a gift to be able to give this to people.”

Science experiments for French immersion students

With classes at Manitoba K-12 schools on hold for three weeks after March 20, teachers and parents are quickly creating alternatives to keep students learning. 

Meghan Waters is a French immersion teacher at École Varennes in Winnipeg, and understands her colleagues across the province have been struggling to get assignments ready for students.

She says there’s also a lack of resources for French immersion students online.

That’s why Waters — who is currently on maternity leave — created YouTube videos of science experiments in French that she hopes will help keep kids learning, engaged and entertained during their time off.

WATCH | Meghan Waters conducts a science experiment:

Winnipeg French immersion teacher Meghan Waters talks about practising social distancing while still building community during the COVID-19 outbreak. 1:15

“My goal is really to show that you can have fun in French,” said Waters, “and also to just kind of give parents who have their children in immersion something.”

Online open mic comedy

Since March 15, university student and stand-up comedian Sarah London has been giving other comedians a chance to show off their material through an Instagram open mic series.

London has brought together approximately 45 comedians, the majority local acts, to help entertain Winnipeggers during what she says is a very serious time.

“There’s something special about comedy as an art form. It is great at creating a shared experience. That in itself creates community.” 

Sarah London is a student and stand-up comedian in Winnipeg. She says that she’ll keep the comedy act going as long as people keep submitting videos. (Submitted by Sarah London )

Comedians submit their videos to London’s Instagram account (sra_5000). She screens them for any objectionable content — like racist, xenophobic or homophobic material — and if they’re OK, she posts them online. 

“So many people contributing are social distancing. They are showing the stresses of being isolated. We are showing, not telling, what people should be doing,” said London.

The majority of the videos submitted to London are from amateur comedians, and it’s a resource she says is creating community through a tough time. She plans to keep it running as long as people keep submitting videos.

It’s important for people to come together right now, London says. She encourages others to submit something to her and watch the online open mic, which she says has a very home-movie feel.

Comedy is useful for everyone right now, she says.

“It can help people when you’re feeling stressed out and sad.” 

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