Mt. Carmel

Eight-year-old Annie Hall of rural Bent County gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to the online kids karate class offered by Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center in Trinidad.

“It’s really fun and cool and I enjoy it a lot,” Annie said during a phone interview along with her mother Alisha. “It’s super convenient,” her mom added. “She had expressed interest in doing karate in a class here locally and it would have been an hour drive each way. So when this came through Mt. Carmel, it was a great opportunity for her to see if she even liked it. It was free, there were no accessibility barriers, it was a great option.”

But Mt. Carmel offers more than kids programs online using the popular Zoom program. Since the COVID-19 crisis shut down so much of society and the stay at home orders came into force, adaptation has been key. “We immediately saw a need to keep people connected as the coronavirus crisis escalated,” said Laura Jordan, Wellness Coordinator at Mt. Carmel. “It’s been absolutely wonderful for our participants and very successful.”

Class offerings include stress management, another called Health Talk and a yoga class known as Mindfulness Mornings. Trinidad resident Charlotte Hawkins takes the Tai Chi class and likes it better than in person sessions. “Personally I like it because if the (in person) class is crowded and you’re standing in back you can’t see the teacher as well,” she said. Hawkins connects the Zoom stream to her television, so she has a much larger image of the instructor than she would on a laptop or phone.

All classes are free and currently averaging about 14 participants.  Everyone can ask questions in real time and instructors are well qualified in their fields. For example, Laura Jordan, Mt. Carmel’s Wellness Coordinator, is a black belt in karate and teaches the kids karate class.

Jordan says the best way to keep up on Mt. Carmel’s offerings is their Facebook page, where an up to date class list and schedule is posted. There’s also a website, as well as a presence on Instagram.

But back to young Annie Hall, the happy online karate student. “I get extra screen time, and educational learning,” she said brightly. And for her mother, the program is an advantage during a critical time. “Without this class we wouldn’t have this opportunity,” said Alisha Hall. “It’s a super way to have fun activities to do from home.”

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