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Dancers work on their health at community center workshop

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 9:58 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Special attention to health has been on the minds of many East Carolinians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday nights, Joy Community Center tackled the most pressing health concerns of its community in fun ways.

Helping dancers of all ages, races, and skill levels, instructor Kimberly Ward has Pitt County working up a sweat for a good reason.

“I dance. I’ve always danced. It’s my passion. I’ve been dancing for many years,” Ward said. “It helps with losing weight, stress, just building relationships and working together with different people.”

Ward and her fellow Nulook Steppaz dancers have enjoyed their time leading at the community center so much, they’ve agreed to a monthly engagement.

“It’s a rainy night tonight. People would be sitting home, bored, but instead, they are down here dancing. I even danced a little tonight,” Owner Tom Quigley said.

Quigley said his vision for the center is to break down the stigma of West Greenville.

“It’s okay that I may not look like her, I might not talk like him,” Quigley said. “But I just had fun with these people and we all can come together.”

It takes a village to bring the community together to solve pressing health concerns.

Quigley utilizes local resources like the West Greenville Health Council which leads classes on some of those concerns, like diabetes support.

“COVID has certainly focused a lot of attention on health. It’s focused a lot of attention on health disparities as well,” Dr. Nancy Winterbauer said. “And West Greenville is an area that suffers that burden of unequal distribution of disease.”

Winterbauer and her team encourage group-based health education to erase some of the stigmas surrounding bettering one’s health.

“That’s the only way that we’re actually going to come together and be one, if we pour into each other,” Shay Whitlock, a dancer said.

The community center hosts classes and interactive opportunities for all ages. When the space isn’t a dance studio or a science lab, it provides hot meals for the Pitt County community as Joy Soup Kitchen.

Quigley cooks to bring flavors of the Northeast and his hometown of Boston to residents here in the East. He opens the door each weekday for anyone in need of a hot meal.

Through the community center events, the West Greenville Health Council hopes to further address some of the health disparities that Black residents face like strokes, obesity, heart disease, and depression.

More information on future community center events can be found here.

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