Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Moves to Virtual Programming

This Macomb County city aims to engage residents through a number of virtual exercise classes, programs and more that will continue through the fall.

The way we exercise and play has drastically changed with the stay-at-home order, which was put in place to flatten the coronavirus curve — and it abruptly ended in-person classes and programming for people all over the state of Michigan.

That shift could have caused some serious issues for the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department, which relies on those in-person interactions through a number of programs, events and classes — but the department used this time as an opportunity to explore virtual ways to engage the community.

“We went through the first few days of shellshock, trying to figure out what that meant and what we needed to do, but then realized quickly that there are going to be people at home for a long time that are used to coming to classes on a weekly basis or for some people, multiple times a week,” says Kyle Langlois, director of the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department. “We wanted to try to get them the ability to continue meeting their fitness goals, or for those that were coming to Nature Center programs or our Little Learnersclasses, we wanted to give people an opportunity to still be engaged in parks and recreation instead of sitting home and going crazy.”

And that’s just what they’ve done. Today, the department is offering classes and programming through its YouTube channel, in addition to virtual Bingo and Trivia, along with summer camps — which you can register for on the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation department’s website.

“We’re looking at 25 to 30 new programs. These are going to go well through September,” he says, adding that some could continue until later into fall. “It’s a great opportunity to try new things.”

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The new normal

For the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department, planning ahead has always been the norm — whether it’s special events, programs or camps — so it was a challenge for the department to make changes so quickly, Langlois notes.

But it was essential in order to provide “a glimmer of hope and normalcy” to residents. Instead of cutting down, the department ramped up its efforts to engage residents of all ages — and will continue to operate virtually for the foreseeable future.

Those who are interested in doing cardio, yoga, low-impact and tai chi workouts can visit the city’s YouTube channel where they’ll find a number of videos.

Check out Little Learners with Ms. Lorene, or browse some adaptive resources — there are plenty of things to nurture your mind and body during this time.

It’s essential — much like the Parks and Recreation Department, he notes.

“Sometimes it can be easy to cut in dire times because some people consider it as fluff and bonus, but we’ve confirmed through this crisis that parks are essential.”

For more information on Macomb County, visit the Make Macomb Your Home website.