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Greenbelt Recreation/ARTS goes Virtual

Our next report on Greenbelters adapting to the pandemic zeroes in on the City of Greenbelt’s own Recreation/Arts Department, which on April 12 launched its Virtual Recreation Center, encouraging greenbelters to “find opportunities for all ages to explore, connect, learn, and play while we practice social distancing…We are in this together! #greenbeltrecreation.”

Indeed we are! I asked Art Supervisor Nicole DeWald to point us to some sample virtual offerings, first for kids.

For Kids

(L) Angella Foster and daughter; (R) Lisa Pellittiere

“We may all be feeling a bit hemmed in, but we’ve still got to move! Dance program staff Angella Foster and Lisa Pellittiere are posting great weekly movement activities for kids on the City’s Facebook page, including Move This Book (Thursdays at 10am) and Move This Beat (Tuesdays at 10am). Past releases are also available for your enjoyment any time.

Miss Gaye

“Miss Gaye, who leads the department’s popular Mom’s Morning Out pre-school program, has also been creating a video series to stay in touch with her adoring – and adorable – young fans.” Check it out.

“In addition to creating original series, staff have curated a wealth of online resources for patrons. Topics include fitness routines for all ages, swim readiness and water safety education, and virtual field trips to museums, zoos, aquariums, adventures in nature, and theme parks.”

What caught my eye was the Virtual Art Share, especially the “The Crystal Ball” puppet show (above) by Greenbelt’s own Beech Tree Puppets. The show premiered at the May 3 Artful Afternoon, and will be available throughout the month of May on the Greenbelt Recreation ARTS YouTube Channel for Kids. Or you can click here for an activity guide with things to make and do related to themes in the show.

For Adults

Nicole writes, “As featured elsewhere on Greenbelt Online, Chris Cherry and Stefan Brodd are providing a weekly series of uplifting Seven Song Sing-a-Longs. Videos premiere on Saturdays on the city’s Facebook page, and past releases are also available.

“Curated resources are also available in mindfulness and meditation.”

“Our special events offer something for everyone, regardless of age.  Please consider joining us for virtual community celebrations, until we can all gather as a community at our wonderful parks and recreation facilities.”

Speaking of special events, I’ll be “attending” the Virtual Open Studio Tour on June 7 (1-4 pm). It’s described as “Brief, online home/studio visits will be scheduled throughout the afternoon. The tour is open to adult artists who live, work, study or play in Greenbelt.” Sign up now to receive more information.

And I found some promising instructional videos about playing in place by Arts Department teachers like Gina Mae Denn (left above) and Mary Gawlik.

Q&A with Nicole DeWald

What’s its been like switching gears to virtual?

Nicole: “Learning, creativity, and – above all – service are among our values as a department; this transition has certainly given us an opportunity to put these values into action! Recreation staff are eagerly embracing new possibilities to promote wellness, development, comfort and joy throughout the community.
How much engagement has there been so far?
Nicole: “We’re very gratified by our constituents’ warm response to our initial online offerings, and by the community’s readiness to transition with the department to new ways of connecting. Numerous dance classes that were interrupted by the crisis have continued online, and new drawing, painting and Pre-School Art classes have been successfully launched. We’ve enjoyed plenty of cheerful company at our Youth and Adult Art Shares, and at our first live online special events – Camp at Home Day and the May Artful Afternoon.
“Views for our online tutorials are ranging from the 20s to the 80s so far, and views for performances are ranging from the 150s to the 350s and counting. We’re eager to broaden the audience for all of these offerings, and we thank Greenbelt Online for helping to spread the word!”
And anything new coming up?
Nicole: “Virtual workshops are now available for youth involved in scouting; programs include drawing, painting, collage, comic book art, outdoor art, music and dance. We will soon be posting a schedule of online summer visual and performing arts classes for all ages; programs will begin on or after June 15. Although we will not be able to host on-site summer camps this year, we also have a range of rich alternative programs in development to help youth enjoy a happy and active summer.
“A very special event – the Celebration of Spring – is Saturday, May 16, from 2-4 pm, featuring a spring music jam with DJ Angie D and a magic show with Anthony Ware, along with video premieres and lots of art activities.
“A virtual bike parade is in the works for Memorial Day Weekend. Greenbelt Day Weekend, June 5-7, will include our first Greenbelt Virtual Open Studio Tour and other art and Greenbelt history themed activities.”

How to Follow Greenbelt Virtual Recreation Arts

NOTE: By contributing these pandemic stories, photos, et cetera, Greenbelters are making an unconditional donation of the material to the nonprofit Greenbelt Online.org and the Greenbelt Museum/City of Greenbelt, which reserve the right to keep, lend, or otherwise dispose of the donated material, and may use the material on our website, for social media or other postings, in promotional materials or in future exhibits.
Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

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