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NEWS // July 9, 2016

UPAC EMASS Dance Studio Brings Seniors Together

Dancing their way to physical and mental health! On July 8, 2016 Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) Elder Multicultural Access and Support Services (EMASS) seniors celebrated a Ribbon Cutting for their new dance studio, made possible through a grant from District 3 County Supervisor Dave Roberts.

EMASS is a PEI-funded outreach and engagement program serving older adults at risk of mental health issues from the community's Latino, Filipino, African American, Somali, and Chaldean communities. Their Latino and Filipino seniors love to dance and they gain strength from peer support and socialization activities especially older adults that want to keep their cultural tradition.  Some of the coping skills of Latino and Filipino seniors are dance and music.  Although the program had the space, they didn't have a safe dance floor, sound system, or mirrors. The challenge was to find funding to purchase the materials needed to create a dance studio. Roberta Roberts from Supervisor Dave Roberts office suggested that EMASS submit a grant to request funding for the Dance Studio.

Finding a portable dance floor, full size mirrors, and audio equipment without spending a fortune was a challenge, but EMASS Program Manager, Agnes Hajek and her staff did an internet search until they found what was needed.  They submitted a grant in the amount of $8,900 to Supervisor Robert's office and the EMASS program's dream came true.

Now their seniors can dance the day away every Tuesday and Friday, improving their health and wellbeing through Filipino and Latino cultural dancing, Zumba classes, and line dancing.

The EMASS Dance Studio contributes to the physical, mental, and social welfare of vulnerable seniors. Dancing not only engages seniors in physical activities, it also decreases isolation and creates ties to their cultural roots.  The smiles and laughter of the EMASS seniors enjoying the new dance studio is a testament to hard work and collaboration.

"When my wife died, I was alone and depressed. The EMASS program saved me and the dance studio brings me joy," said one participant.

EMASS will continue to promote healthy living through the use of the new dance floor. They are so thankful to the County for funding the EMASS program and to Supervisor Roberts for the grant that made the dance studio possible. Sometimes it is the simple things like dancing that can solve serious problems like depression among our senior population.