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Local Comedy Theater Focuses Efforts On Bringing Much Needed Laughter, Connection To Seniors, Caregivers

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Local Comedy Theater Focuses Efforts On Bringing Much Needed Laughter, Connection To Seniors, Caregivers

As many struggle to find ways to cope during the ongoing pandemic and quarantine, seniors and their caregivers find themselves more disconnected from the world outside. Many senior and memory care facilities have limited or prohibited visitation, resulting in limited interaction with residents' family and friends. These precautions are necessary to keep the virus from reaching their at-risk seniors but can present new challenges as the virus and isolation continues.

"The global pandemic has been challenging for all these past few months but for the seniors we serve in skilled nursing facilities it's proven especially challenging to this vulnerable population. They are at risk for increased pandemic-related depression, anxiety and loneliness," said Susan McKinney CTRS, CADDCT, CDP, VP of Operations for Lifetime Wellness Ltd.

Because Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre & Training Center focuses on not only comedy but therapeutic improv through their Improv for Life program, which serves those in the community with Alzheimer's and dementia as well as their caregivers, they are uniquely suited for the job of lifting the spirits of seniors and their caregivers.

Stomping Ground, located in the Dallas Design District, is in its sixth month of having its doors temporarily closed due to COVID-19; however, they have shifted their resources to the virtual platform to find novel ways to continue their mission of connecting the community through comedy. One of these ways includes bringing much-needed resources to seniors and caregivers of those who have Alzheimer's and dementia during the ongoing pandemic.

Through a partnership with Lifetime Wellness Ltd., Stomping Ground will broadcast a monthly virtual Senior Variety Show that will restream to almost 40 memory care and skilled nursing facilities across Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

"Ongoing requirements for social distancing and restrictions on visitation have afforded us the opportunity to lean more on technology and we've been able to host a variety of virtual programs using Zoom," explained McKinney, "Knowing and understanding the benefits of laughter we thought 'how great would be to be able to bring comedy and some joy and laughter to our virtual programming?!' Partnering with Stomping Ground Comedy is an initiative we are so excited about, knowing that we will see smiles, joy and laughter on our screens."

Stomping Ground has looked to local performers Sherry Etzel and Lindsay Goldapp to host the online variety show and provide those smiles and laughter. Goldapp is a Second City-trained comedy performer and serves as the Artistic Director at Stomping Ground Comedy and Etzel is a veteran performer who has performed all across the state of Texas and is currently wrappting a virtual run of An Act of God at Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas where she plays the role of God. The two will use music, sketch comedy, and characters to recreate the comedy stylings reminiscent of variety shows of yesteryear.

Another way that Stomping Ground is providing seniors and their caregivers resources during this time is through their Improv for Caregivers classes funded by AWARE. The Improv for Caregivers program is a ground-breaking class that provides caregivers a new roadmap to interacting and communicating with their loved ones. Because of the pandemic, AWARE has allowed Stomping Ground to reimagine what was intended to be an in-person experience into a virtual one.

"The silver lining is that we are able to reach more caregivers virtually," said Improv for Life Program Director Andrea Kyprianou Baum, M.Ed., LPC. "There are caregivers who have never been able to leave their loved ones for several hours and now we can offer them this program."

The Improv for Caregivers workshop employs improv exercises and activities that benefit both the caregiver and their loved one and help form a more joyful bond with the person they are caring for. Stomping Ground has pivoted to successfully offer their adult training center classes virtually and they have had the same success with the Caregivers program.

"We were able to improvise and adapt the program and our caregivers are still able to have fun and learn all of the fundamental concepts online. Covid has brought isolation to caregivers and their loved ones, and we are bringing joy and connection into their homes during this critical time," said Baum.

The Improv for Caregivers virtual class is held every fourth Thursday of the month and is completely free for those within Dallas and Collin Counties. It is Pay What You Can for everyone outside of those areas. Stomping Ground also takes this class to local support groups and inquiries can be made with Improv for Life Program Director Andrea Baum at

Program Details

Improv for Caregivers

Every fourth Thursday of the month

Virtual Sessions

FREE for Dallas & Collin County Residents/Pay What You Can for Others

To register, visit:

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