News Story

Finding Joy in Movement and Connection ─ Reflections on COVID-19

Uniting individuals amidst a time of social distancing

As we social distance to protect others and slow the spread of the global pandemic, countless individuals have expressed the mental and emotional stress caused by social isolation.

After reading several social media posts, Brett Harman, from the Mooroolbark Ward (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Melbourne, Australia, reflected on his past experiences participating in an online running club.

He remembered how beneficial this program was for him physically, mentally, and emotionally. He became inspired to create his own movement program by inviting members of his ward to see how far they could run, swim and cycle in a month.

Fitness challenge, Victoria Australia, Bethany Byrne,
Fitness challenge, Victoria Australia, Bethany Byrne,
Fitness challenge participants, Bethany Byrne and her daughter, Victoria, Australia© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Members took on this challenge with excitement and enjoyment, and their ward Facebook page became flooded with words of words of kindness, encouragement, and healthy competition. Many ward members commented on the positive impact this initiative had on their health during that time.

One Church member wrote: “It was really nice to feel supported by a community not only committed to spiritual health but also to physical and mental health.”

At the end of the month-long challenge, 30 ward members had biked, walked, run, or swum a combined total of 4200km or 2,610 miles.

When asked about his exercise initiative, Harmon said, “My experience with the online running club helped me so much. I wanted to help others feel their burdens lighten through the joy of movement and connection, just like I had. We never really understand the impact our seemingly small efforts can make.

"Very simple acts of kindness and connection can make such a difference in someone’s life. The Saviour is the master example of reaching out in love and connection with others, and I find great joy in trying to serve as He did.”

Church leaders in April General Conference invited all to serve. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Suppose Jesus came to your ward, to your branch, or to your home today. What would that be like?...He would teach us to open our hearts to God and reach out to others.”

Elder Ricardo P. Giménez invited all to “come and help others find the refuge that they so yearn for. Come and stay with us in this refuge, which will help you resist the storms of life. There is no doubt in my heart that if you come, you will see, you will help, and you will stay.”

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