Hobby communities helping keep people connected

Story By Jack Titter

Photographs By Cesia Lopez

Video By Natalie Sierra

Infographics By Patrick Pamanian

Edited By Elizabeth Dowell

Roller skaters leaning against the fence at a skate-park. By Cesia Lopez

Dancing, roller skating, and martial arts are all great activities that keep people active and connected with each other during these times where social interactions have become scarce.

Having to make the sudden adjustments of isolation and restrictions has been difficult for everyone, especially for teens and young adults. Heather Rousselo, a family therapist who specializes in working with kids and couples shared her view on the topic.

“Asking young adults to put the pause button on the most important years of their lives can be developmentally detrimental,” She said.

Rousselo has seen how those factors can lead to more symptoms of depression and anxiety in people who were fine before the pandemic. However, staying active and participating are great ways to improve the mental health of anyone affected by the pandemic. The mental health specialist recommends that people find ways to stay active.

“Physical activity is even better than medication and therapy because it tells the body that everything is okay,” Rousselo said.

Dancing, martial arts, and roller skating are great activities to try out because they have welcoming communities, can be done outside, and people can do them together while staying at safe distances.

Nick Papadakis has still been able to teach and practice Pekiti-Trisia Kali which is a complex martial art developed in the Philippines. Papadakis and his class have continued to meet regularly despite their school in North Hollywood being closed due to the pandemic. Despite having to hold classes outside, Papadakis enjoys the setting and said “It’s getting back to its roots, in some ways by training outside.” He also sees how important being active is,

“We need to maintain our health because that seems to be an important factor in fighting this thing.” The kali instructor also said the class has gotten new students since the pandemic began.

For Brynna Warren, dancing has been the best way to relieve stress caused by the pandemic. She is a student at CSU Bakersfield, and is part of the school’s dance club, while also teaching dance classes at the university.

“Now that we’ve been doing the dance club during this semester I’ve really seen how important it is for people to have that interaction,” Warren said.

Warren enjoys how dancing gives herself, and others the opportunity to be able to meet new people and try new things, even if most of it is virtual. She made a video with her sister about “Dancing Through The Ages”

“We wanted to give society something to smile about during this time,” Warren said.

Another popular activity to pick up during these times is roller skating. Roller skaters believe it is something anyone can learn with their friends and have a great time trying something new. Dalene Solis said the friends she made through roller skating pushed her to do things that she wouldn’t have done alone. Roller skating also gave Solis something different from her normal routine. She went on to express her love for skating.

“If I woke up and I was sad, I knew I could grab my skates and go to the park and just feel better for the rest of my day,” Solis said. “I know if I fall here I can get back up right away.”

An important aspect that all of these hobbies share in common is how they bring people together and give them the social interactions and the adventure that humans need. Being in a community while also being physically engaged in an activity, can help people feel connected like they did in a world before the pandemic.

Writer, Poet and Journalist from Los Angeles