KISSIMMEE – In a struggling economy, providing services for the region’s neediest residents and for seniors can be an expensive proposition. The Osceola Council on Aging provides a food pantry, Meals on Wheels, and a medical clinic to the community, and with cutbacks at the state and county level, it’s not an easy thing to do, said Rob Dent, the council’s spokesman.
“Food prices being the way they are, we’re especially hard pressed these days,” Dent said. “So we’re looking for creative ways to help people.”
The council, which operates the Barney E. Veal Center in Kissimmee, may have found a couple of creative ways recently, involving Latin dance music and old cell phones. Together, Dent said, the council is hoping that Zumba and “pimping” your phone do the trick.
First, the council recently started a Zumba program that employs the popular, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired calorie-burning dance fitness-party. The Zumba Fitness sessions are being offered as two weekly classes at the center, located at 700 Generation Point. The first is for seniors and is held every Friday from 9-10 a.m., and each class costs $3.
The second class is held Thursdays from 5-6 p.m., and the cost of this class – which is open to anyone, regardless of age — is $5.
Zumba is a Latin-inspired fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Beto in Colombia in the 1990s. It’s a mix of Latin and International music that really took off after businessman Alberto Perlman marketed it. Today, there are believed to be more than 100,000 Zumba fitness center locations in 110 countries.
And yes, Dent said, if Zumba sounds exhilarating and fast-paced, there is such a thing as Zumba for seniors – and the council is going to demonstrate that.
“Obviously, it’s a little less strenuous than the typical Zumba class, so it’s adjusted for pace, and the level of exertion is adjusted as well,” Dent said. “So maybe I can phrase it as less of a Zumba and more of a slower dance.”
Still, there’s no reason why seniors can’t take advantage of these popular classes, Dent said.
“It’s become an international sensation, originating with the Hispanic community, and it’s taken off around the world,” Dent said, adding that it all started for them when some dance instructors introduced the concept to the Council on Aging’s employees.
“Several of the staff got excited about it and started a small class,” Dent said. “Then we said, ‘Why not open it to the public, and make it available to them, too,’ so we did. So we’ve got a kind of combination, with one class in the morning hours and one in the late afternoon, so people can come by after work. The evening one is certainly targeted to any age. I don’t even think there’s a restriction on high school students if they want to come by, but we mostly expect it will be 18 (years old) and over.”
It definitely works well for seniors, said Ana Fernandez, who teaches the class.
“Obviously, you make it a little bit more simple,” she said. “There are different levels, so I adjust to whatever level I need to. With the music, they have a lot of fun, and I get them involved and activated and they seem to respond to what I’m doing.”
It’s all about Zumba at a slower, more relaxed pace, she added.
“Some of the music is definitely quieter,” Fernandez said. “I chose the songs that are a little bit more simple, not as many repetitions. I keep it real simple — low impact, not high impact. There are ways to adjust. We might have a little bit more of a break during the classes.”
Anyone interested in the class and call 407-847-2144 for more information.
While seniors are being encouraged to get active on the dance floor, the general public is being asked to check their closets for old electronic goods. Recycling them, Dent said, could help the council continue paying for its services – all by simply pimping your phone.
“There’s a new company that we’re partnering with called Pimp ur Phone,” Dent said. “We’re going to collaborate with this company. If you like dressing up your car or whatever other accessories you might carry with you, this company specializes in dressing up your cell phone. You can get jewels or cases for it to make it more creative and attractive, and we’re going to collaborate with them on a recycling event where they’re going to collect old cell phones and laptops and anything electronic in nature that no longer has a shelf life, and for every one they take in, it comes back to us as a donation to the Council on Aging.”
“Recycling used consumer electronics is not our primary business,” said Janette Falcon, owner of the Kissimmee-based Pimp ur Phone. “But when the Osceola Council on Aging cared for my mother, I knew helping them financially was a priority when I opened my new business.”
On Thursday, Aug. 25 from 2:30–4:30 p.m., Pimp ur Phone is holding its grand opening at 2295 Boggy Creek Road in Kissimmee. Along with helping people dress up their cell phones, the company is taking part in this charitable donation program benefiting the Osceola Council on Aging. Anyone who brings in their old cell phones, digital cameras, radar detectors, laptop computers, digital video cameras, handheld game systems, GPS devices or MP3 players can help the council maintain its social service safety net.
“Everyone has a few old electronic devices laying around the house, abandoned in a drawer or in your closet that can be turned into a donation,” Falcon added. “And our fund-raiser for the council depends on you to donate it instead of throwing it away.”
“You can take your phone in to get pimped, but at the same time if you looked around your house and found an old cell phone that had dropped in the water , or an old laptop with half a megabyte of memory that you’re never going to update it, or an old GPS unit, you get a credit for that donation. The proceeds come back to the Council on Aging,” Dent said.
The Osceola Council on Aging needs those donations because this agency assisted more than 100,000 residents last year with programs such as Meals on Wheels, transportation for the elderly and disabled, housing for the elderly, a youth intergenerational mentoring programs, rental and utility assistance, in home and chore services for the elderly, congregate programs and family financial assistance programs. That’s a lot of programs to support, said Beverly Hougland, CEO of the Osceola Council on Aging, which is they’re taking part in the Pimp ur Phone fund-raiser.
“We’re proud to partner with new business start ups such as Pimp ur Phone, especially when they find ways to work collaboratively with the community to make Osceola County a better place to live,” Hougland said.
Anyone interested in donating electronics can call Pimp ur Phone at 407-483-5930.
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