KEEP PEOPLE WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE DANCING!
My name is Veronica Shum. I am a professional contemporary dancer, remedial massage therapist and physiotherapist. Since the beginning of this year I have been involved with Parkinson’s SA as co-teacher and lead teacher of the fledgling Dance! WITH Parkinson’s classes.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neuro-degenerative condition for which currently there is no cure. Typically occurring in older people (although young onset PD does occur), the condition has a spectrum of symptoms but is most often known for its debilitating effects on movement. People with PD often develop a tremor in arms/legs, become very rigid (especially through their trunk) and stooped in their posture, and lose the ability to move in a voluntary, fluid and balanced way. Basic every day movements like changing position in bed and walking become difficult, and people with PD are more susceptible to falling over (the outcomes of which can be especially disastrous for an older person). Consequently, PD often robs people of their independence and quality of life.
Dance classes for people with PD is not a new idea, having been pioneered by the Mark Morris Dance Company in New York in 2001 (www.danceforparkinsons.org). The classes have spread across the world (including to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), are now supported by a growing body of research evidence that shows dance classes can improve posture, balance and walking in people with PD. Beyond the research evidence however, our Adelaide dance classes have been a great success simply because the participants enjoy getting together once a week to dance and have a cup of tea and a chat after.
“I have found the dance invaluable for uplifting the spirits, laughter and exercise. Look forward to every Friday morning. Highlight of every week. Just love it!!”
“Great fun, loosens me up for the whole week.”
“Most enjoyable – it definitely helps with coordination/fitness etc. It is well organised and a good social event.”
– Feedback from Dance! WITH Parkinson’s dancers, 2015.
Based on such positive feedback and the consistent participant numbers, we would very much like to continue the classes next year and even grow the program, so that the classes are accessible to more people with PD. The class I teach at Clarence Park Community Centre is due to start its first block of 10 classes on 15th January 2016. Beyond requiring funds to pay for venue hire and dance instructor fees for this class, we would also like to fund two, 5-week pilot programs at venues in the southern and northern suburbs to assess the demand for dance classes in these areas.
At this stage Parkinson’s SA is in the process of securing funding for the dance program, but most likely will not have this funding in time for the proposed class recommencement date next year. Anyone who has ever recommenced dance or other exercise after time off knows how much physical fitness and skill you lose over a long break, so we would very much like to be able to start again on 15th January!
Please donate and help us keep this dance program alive!
For further information please contact me at [email protected] or Paula-Jean Hayes or Anne Heard at Parkinson’s SA, 8357 8909.