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Lynbrook Recreation Center stays active during pandemic

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On March 13, the Lynbrook Recreation Department hosted normal programs for what would prove to be the last time in many months as the coronavirus pandemic began to peak. Though the building had to close, it didn’t stop administrators from keeping the activities coming.

“We set up a schedule not knowing what was going to happen,” Recreation Department Supervisor Andrea Genna said. “We found a way to continue our programs and our dance classes.”

A week after shutting down, Genna and her staff teamed together to create online programs and offer activities for groups of all ages to do at home. They included Zumba classes over the Zoom video conferencing platform, dance classes, hip-hop and ballet coloring sheets, mommy and me classes and more.

Around mid-June when it began to get warmer and coronavirus cases decreased, the classes then began meeting outside at Greis Park in groups of 10 or less, and participants practiced social distancing and other health and safety protocols. Then a few weeks later, the groups grew to 25, and in July, dance studios were able to reopen. Though online classes were less popular once the weather got nicer, the recreation center still offers online pre-recorded Zumba sessions twice a week, which Genna said likely never would have happened pre-pandemic.

Children in the dance classes were supposed to have a large recital at Molloy College in June, but it ended up having to get canceled. Genna was able to organize the recital still, and it took place on Aug. 15 at Greis Park as the young students wore costumes and put on a performance for those gathered there.

“It was extremely important because we felt bad for them,” Genna said. “Their whole life was turned upside down and they couldn’t see their friends, so we tried to come up with creative ways to do things.”

Genna said she was grateful for those who helped her, including recreation leader Jessica Gaymaro, recreation dance specialists Amanda Sirakowski and Yesenia Morales and pre-school teacher Lisa Vailakis and adult art teacher Joan Lazarus, who taught pre-recorded and live classes over Zoom.

Elizabeth Margulies, who has 9-year-old twins, said she was pleased about how the Recreation Center was still a vital resource during the pandemic, and noted that she was worried about what will happen to it when Genna goes on maternity leave in a few weeks.

“While other towns saw their rec centers shut down during this crisis, under the leadership of Andrea Genna our children seamlessly transitioned,” she said. “ … Throughout the pandemic, the rec center has provided a sense of normalcy for our children. Andrea and her staff have been truly amazing. I can’t stress enough how important this has been to both the physical and mental health of our children.”