Designed by and for older adults: New podcast series, Backyard Oasis, launches out of GCC 

Podcast host Denise Schwartz talks with dance instructor Emily Fox in a studio at Greenfield Community College about how dance is good exercise for older people. In background is sound engineer Nina Bocko.

Podcast host Denise Schwartz talks with dance instructor Emily Fox in a studio at Greenfield Community College about how dance is good exercise for older people. In background is sound engineer Nina Bocko. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DIANE BRONCACCIO

For the Recorder

Published: 02-09-2024 12:52 PM

Is it ever too late to start dancing?

On a wintry morning at Greenfield Community College, podcast-host Denise Schwartz and GCC dance teacher Emily Fox discuss the benefits of dance as part of a podcast series called Backyard Oasis.

Fox says dance helps older adults improve their aerobic capacity, their lower-body muscle endurance, balance and gait while enjoying music and the company of others.

“We can become stiff and rigid if we don’t take action,” she said. “Motion is the lotion. And dance is almost like ‘stealth exercise.’”

And dance also provides connections to other people, in an era when loneliness is becoming epidemic, Fox pointed out. She encourages everyone to start with beginners’ classes, and to sign up even if they don’t have a dance partner. “If you can count to eight ... then you can dance,” she said.

“Oasis,” an acronym, stands for “Older Adults Seeking, Inspiring and Serving.” The volunteer-run podcast is designed by and for older adults living in Franklin County and in the Pioneer Valley, according to Judy Raper, GCC’s associate dean for community engagement.

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“It’s produced in GCC’s Teaching and Learning Centers, and a new episode drops every two weeks,” said Raper. “It’s an all-volunteer enterprise, of 20- to 30-minute shows. The aim is to provide wide-ranging conversations with people in the Pioneer Valley, who are growing older.”

While most of the program listeners are from Franklin County, those tuning in through YouTube have come from as far away as Belgium, the Midwest and Florida, says Raper. Since posting the podcasts on more platforms, the audience for these programs has been growing.

Team members include Dennis Lee, Denise Schwartz, Chad Fuller, Christine Copeland, Raper and producer Alex Audette.

The dance podcast will be posted online in March, but several other podcasts are already available. These include retired radio personality Dennis Lee’s interview with Hartford Whalers’ hockey goalie Bruce Landon, author of the autobiography “The Puck Stops Here.”

“Spilling the Tea: An Intergenerational Conversation about Reality Television” is a two-part series that includes discussion about favorite reality TV shows and intergenerational viewing habits.

“The Power of Love and Music” is a conversation with musician/composer Nick Kachulis about “Life With Bill” — a book he wrote about caring for his 92-year-old father, after his dad was no longer able to communicate with words.

Other podcast topics include: growing up with and without the Internet, memoir publishing, and volunteer opportunities within the community.

“Our podcast can be found on pretty much any platform where podcasts exist, including Apple and Spotify,” says Raper.

To hear the podcasts, search on Backyard Oasis from your favorite platform. Or subscribe to the Greenfield Community College YouTube channel, and check back regularly for new episodes.