BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - We’ve all heard the best way to stay healthy as we age is to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise more. Well, one particular group in Baton Rouge is proving the experts right, especially with regard to the exercise part of that equation.
Mary Washington has been line dancing every Wednesday for ten years. And at 74-years-old, her doctor says it’s paying big dividends.
“The last time I took my heart test, my doctor couldn’t believe,” Mary said. “He told me I had the heart of a 40-year-old and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him Ms. Rose’s line dancing class at the Charles Kelly Center.”
The Charles R. Kelly Community Center is under the leadership of Councilwoman Erica Greene. They offer a wide range of programs for the whole family, including youth programs, daily lunches, line dancing, and more. And their Senior Wellness Enrichment and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) has the largest enrollment of all programs offered.
“The SWEEP program stands for Senior Wellness Enrichment and Enhancement Program,” director for the center, Keshala Jackson explained. “We have about 390 seniors enrolled and have a wonderful partnership with the Council on Aging where we provide lunch every day. In addition, the Council on Aging provides other activities and enrichment for our members.”
One program under the SWEEP umbrella is line dancing every Wednesday.
“The [line] dance class actually has been going on for many years,” Jackson said. “Ms. Rose Anderson is our instructor of the dance class, but she’s also an active member of SWEEP. So even this morning, she volunteered with our vegetable program, bagging vegetables for a couple of hours before she started teaching the class, so she’s an amazing volunteer, very hard worker.”
Mary Washington has known Ms. Rose for many years and could not agree more.
“I wanted her to get Hand It On because she’s such a sweet person,” Washington said. “She starts her classes on time, she ends on time, and she takes her time in teaching us the new dances. She buys CDs and records all those line dances for us, and I know that’s expensive for her, so this will help her to buy those wonderful CDs.”
We went to the Charles R. Kelly Center under the guise of recording footage of the Wednesday line dance class for a video the city requested. So Ms. Rose was stunned when Mary Washington stopped the class, called Ms. Rose to the center of the room, and presented her with our Hand It On gift.
“Rose, I want to thank you for your wonderful line dancing classes,” Washington began. “Your classes keep the citizens of Baton Rouge moving, healthy, and feeling young. “So I nominated you for Hand It On and would like to present you with this $300 so that you can continue the wonderful work you do for the citizens of Baton Rouge.”
Anderson was speechless and overwhelmed with emotion. Through her tears, she managed to thank Washington and the group of more than 70 dancers.
“Thank you,” she said, her voice quivering as she spoke. “But this is my gift from the Lord, and I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy ya’ll, and I love ya’ll.”
They love you too Ms. Rose. They love you very, very much!
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.