By: Tina Novotny

As we begin 2021 in our current pandemic pause, we can take the time to reflect on ways to pursue health and fitness goals, learn new skills and enhance spirituality.

While many of us enjoy the camaraderie of in-person continuing education, since we are mostly home-bound, there are still many online course options available.

You can explore virtual learning in Ontario through the website Georgina | studyonline.ca. The office is located within The Learning Centre for Georgina in Keswick, but due to COVID-19 they’re happy to provide information and support by phone, email or Zoom.

The Town of Georgina is launching a new range of courses through online recreation programming. Some courses are free, and others have nominal fees. Visit georgina.ca/recreation to register.

The line-up includes everything from cake decorating to animation for cartoons and gaming. There are perennial favourites like cooking classes and photography workshops, and craft-making instruction for wind chimes and walking sticks.

There’s also a unique new offering called Black Saturday School for youth, where participants explore Black History in a safe, co-creative and fun space.

Seeking more support for body and soul? There are a number of meditation and yoga teachers in Georgina, such as Ashley Drysdale of Devi Healing in Jackson’s Point. She has taken her Gathering of the Goddesses online on the fourth Friday of every month.

Georgina has a variety of gyms such as 24/7 NRG Fitness in Keswick. Owner and personal trainer Robin Smith has created an app to access membership options and classes on digital platforms.

Did you participate in Sober January this year? The Canadian Cancer Society has come up with its own Dry February campaign, which is both a fundraiser and public health promotion. Sign up and get those sponsorships going!

If you want to support local restaurants this (pandemically different) Valentine’s Day, use yelp.ca to check out independent purveyors.

Amy Symington: photo by Darren Kemper

There are numerous vegetarian options, but if you’re ready to take the leap to cooking your own vegan meals, order The Long Table Cookbook by Chef Amy Symington.

Symington grew up on a family farm in Ontario, where the dinner table was always filled with relatives, friends and other visitors enjoying fresh, home-cooked meals.

Symington is a professor at George Brown College, and is the culinary nutrition program coordinator at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, a non-profit organization supporting those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Symington lost her own mother to breast cancer, and she’s donating 100 percent of the royalties from her cookbook to support Gilda’s Club.

Although it will still be a while before we can reap the emotional and social benefits of sitting together at a communal table, you’ll be amazed at how delicious Symington’s vegan recipes taste.

Be ready to wow your own circles with healthy dishes for a new and improved 2021!

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