Making the most of social distancing

Mary Tsai
GNAG Executive Director

The world has turned upside down in the past few weeks, forcing people to stay inside and avoid social interactions. The recent announcement that city facilities will remain closed until June 30 makes it all the more challenging. Many of us are finding ourselves with a lot of time on our hands, unable to gather with friends and family while waiting out the storm.

Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG)’s business is based on social gatherings, so we are adjusting to our ever-changing world.

Since the Glebe Community Centre closed on March 13 because of the COVID-19 crisis, we have been forced to cancel most of our programs and events.  But our team has been developing creative ways to keep our community connected and engaged while maintaining social distancing.

We are fortunate to have access to online video-conferencing services such as ZOOM, Google Hangouts and Facebook Live to help keep family and friends in touch. It has become a vital programming resource for GNAG

On March 24, GNAG hosted its first fitness class on ZOOM followed by circle time with Jason Irvine and Boredom Busters with some of our favourite staff. The response was overwhelmingly positive. More than 100 people logged in and joined the fun. It was great to see everyone’s smiling face again and to meet some new ones. We’ve also been thrilled to hear that many of our clients, having been introduced to ZOOM through GNAG, are now using the platform to connect with families and friends.

Tuesday, March 31 would have been opening night for our musical theatre production of The Sound of Music. After seven months of rehearsals and planning, disappointment does not begin to describe how everyone felt when the show was cancelled.

To offset this stroke of bad luck, we decided to perform an online version. More than 50 cast and crew members logged onto ZOOM and performed the show from their own living rooms. No, it wasn’t quite the same as doing it in front of a packed audience in Scotton Hall, but as they say: “The show must go on.” It was certainly a joy to see everyone again.

What I have learned during this adjustment period is that we can spend this time in a positive way while maintaining social distancing. Instead of updating your social media, scrolling through the news or engaging in anxious conversations about the crisis, why not connect with your loved ones, join a social group or learn a new skill? We hope to see you in one of our ZOOM classrooms, sharing a moment of joy with your community. You can find the listing of our current programs on our website at under online classes.

When life returns to normal, which it will, we will need each other more than ever. With that in mind, we ask you, to please consider making a donation to GNAG.

Your donation will assist in the delivery of online programming during this difficult time. It will also ensure that we will be here in the future to offer the same programming and childcare that has made GNAG a vital part of the community for over 40 years. All of us at GNAG sincerely thank those of you who have already shown your support and generosity and those of you who will. You can donate online at

GNAG is and will continue to be here for you.

In happier times, members of the cast and crew of GNAG’s musical theatre The Sound of Music gather for the first rehearsal.   Photo: Lauren Kirk
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