Left to right: Melanie Giles, Marie Lucey, Dr. Stephanie Bissonnette, Linda Hall (Parkinson’s Fitness co-founder), Anne Muskopf, Stephanie Recchia
With location hosting once again provided by the Danvers Community YMCA and their friendly, helpful staff and volunteers – with additional event assistance from YMCA Outreach Director Suzanne Malach – all was in readiness on September 14th for welcoming the 123-plus audience participants, 5 speakers, and 16 education exhibitors, to our “Living Well with Parkinson’s: Building Resilience Foundations” symposium!
Five engaging guest speakers offered guidance about how to live stronger and create and maintain enjoyable, safe ways of everyday living.
Geriatric Medical Social Worker and keynote speaker, Stephanie Recchia, described resilience in terms related to searching within and beyond one’s self and discovering how past experiences and even personality traits affect adaptability to living with life-changing prolonged illness. She stressed the need for creating an interdisciplinary medical team, as well as strong family and peer support. Stephanie’s insightful remarks transitioned into how to re-create (or start) building strong inner foundations that help promote experiences of happiness and productivity.
Dr. Stephanie Bissonnette from the Boston Medical Center and BU School of Medicine focused on neurology. Marie Lucey from the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness at Gordon College addressed the importance of physical therapy. Melanie Olson Giles from the Speech Therapy Group in Beverly spoke about maintaining strong vocal communication capabilities and safe swallowing therapies. Anne Muscopf from the Jewish Family & Children’s Service Parkinson’s Family Support Program presented ways of creating activities of everyday lifestyle adaptations, as well as the potential use of assistive devices when necessary.
Parkinson’s Fitness instructors:
left: Dianna Daly, Balance in Motion
right: Kim Crowley, Strength & Conditioning
Once again, Parkinson’s Fitness instructors Dianna Daly (Balance in Motion) and Kim Crowley (Strength & Conditioning), joined by class substitute Sally Zagnoli, had EVERYONE moving and stretching to the lively music they’d chosen to showcase how even five minutes of movement a day can “wake up” anyone’s body! Click here to read more about our instructors and again here for weekly class locations and times in six nearby communities.
We couldn’t provide these educational symposiums without the support of our generous sponsors, participation by willing and wonderful speakers and their, as well as other, dedicated organizations who are helping to create the best possible life-management and healthy-living programs for all who live with Parkinson’s.
Ending with the words of online Parkinson’s News Today columnist and fellow Parkinsonian, Sherri Woodbridge, author of Journeying through Parkinson’sDisease:
“…Hope brings purpose back into view. It shuts out the “what-ifs” and turns down the dial of doubt. It disables the feelings of despair, enables you to have a confident expectation of a cure, finds the blessings in the curse, and faith for a brighter future.”
Our 8-week percussion series, led by MedRhythmsmusic therapy instructor Stian Berg Hansen, focused not only on the drumming itself, but also on using rhythm to engage listening, memory, and motor coordination.
During earlier class practice, Stian had the group use alternating drumming hands and clapping movements. This wasn’t always easy at the outset of our time together, especially when Stian also added in having us increase and decrease speed and volume over the weeks that followed. But we improved regularly over time! We also learned how to use boomwhacker instruments, which are colorful plastic tubes of varying lengths and tones of the music scale. Eventually, we divided our circle into three separate sections, with each group of five or eight players beating a different rhythm. The end result?? A pretty rhythmic, integrated sound!
We were able to provide this most recent free music experience through the support of a community grant from the national Parkinson’s Foundation and the generous use of space provided by the Danvers YMCA. From the alternating facial expressions of both focus and smiles, we feel the program was well received by the participants and their care partners!
Quoting information provided in a Michael J. Fox Foundation Foxfeed blog post titled “Ask the MD: Music as Medicine for the Mind”…
“In certain diseases, like Parkinson’s, the brain rhythm in the circuit controlling movement gets off track. …Playing music exercises the mind and body. It provides a route for social interaction. In drawing someone into its rhythm, it can calm a resting tremor, break a freezing spell and bring gait into a more normal pattern. Music can boost memory, lessen depression, and improve the volume and tone of speech.” (https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?music-as-medicine-for-the-mind)
Join our new MedRhythms 8-week neurologic percussion series beginning on Wednesday afternoons from 1-2 PM at the Danvers Community YMCA starting May 1st! Beat a combination of drums, smack a boomwacker, shake maracas…and SO much more! The series is limited to 30 people – take a chance on something new, motivating, beneficial, and fun. Register early by emailing email@example.com to be part of this pilot opportunity here in our area!
We’re pleased to introduce Michael Reyes, newest owner of the Salem Fitness Center, where we hold regular Thursday and Saturday boxing and conditioning classes! As the most recent instructor to help join the fight against Parkinson’s, Michael is far from new to the wellness field. Here’s a glimpse into his career background…
Michael is an experienced personal trainer with a demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and fitness industry. He is skilled in coaching, wellness coaching, fitness training, athletics, and team building. He is a strong community and social services professional with a BS degree focused in economics and management from Norwich University.
Michael has installed a brand new ring in the boxing area at the center. Think that’s too difficult for you? THINK AGAIN AND POSITIVELY! A few of our members have already successfully climbed in to work “on the ropes” trying new agility techniques and stamina-building routines!
Kim Crowley will continue providing her great strength-building and conditioning workouts in her other class locations. Michael understands that Parkinson’s wants to do whatever it can to challenge you, so visualize it as the opponent it is and punch back as hard as you can! You can DO this and Michael is ready to show you how!
A recent post by the Parkinson’s Foundation explains the risks of using marijuana by people with Parkinson’s. Watch this 4-minute video narrated by Parkinson’s Foundation Chief Scientific Officer, James Beck.
Parkinson’s Fitness is not advocating the use of marijuana. Instead, as always, we provide information that readers should discuss in depth with their team of specialists, and then make choices that are safe, healthy, and correct for their particular challenges with this multi-faceted condition.
Our September 29th “Living Well with Parkinson’s” symposium was attended by 150 people, over 20 supporting information vendors, and highlighted by four great guest speakers!
(left to right: Dr. Terry Ellis, Director, BU Center for Neurorehabilitation – Linda Nikolakopoulos, Registered Dietician and Licensed Nutritionist – Pamela Quinn, PD Dance & Coach, PD Movement Lab, New York – Dr. Albert Hung, Movement Specialist, MA General Hospital)
The printed word cannot possibly portray what became a visible energy field sparking the space provided at the Danvers Community YMCA! Included in the 4-hour program were 2 short but dynamic movement and exercise “samplers” led by Parkinson Fitness Balance and Movement instructor, Dianna Daly, and Strength, Conditioning, Boxing instructor, Kim Crowley. As they do in all their weekly classes, both women had participants willingly joining in “waking up” their bodies and minds in five minutes or less!
Drs. Hung and Ellis emphasized how to optimize time allotted during office visits and physical therapy appointments, as well as the importance of exercise in helping to maintain control over difficult body and cognitive challenges. Linda Nikolakopoulos provided insights into the role diet and nutrition play in remaining healthy and staying strong. Pamela Quinn, diagnosed with PD over 20 years ago, travelled from her own PD Movement Lab in New York (https://pdmovementlab.com/about) to demonstrate strategies for moving and living in “real-life” scenarios. Pam’s vocal exercises to strengthen communication, augmented by hand and arm movements, were a high point for everyone!
Special thanks to everyone involved in making this event an incredible opportunity for learning and participating, with special shout-outs to Lucas Michaud, our photographer from Endicott College in Beverly, to Linda Hall’s friends Sandra Moores and Mary Orne for their assistance with credit card payments, to Suzanne Malach, YMCA liaison, the vendors who supported us financially and provided valuable community information, to the team of Parkinson’s Fitness volunteers who assisted as greeters, registrars, and table helpers…and to Linda Hall, whose tireless efforts built yet another opportunity for motivating people on the North Shore to live well, in spite of their Parkinson’s diagnosis!
Diana Daly, bottom row, 4th from left
Elaine Boone, top row, 3rd from right
Devera Ehrenberg, center row, far right
Parkinson’s Fitness Balance in Motion instructor Dianna Daly (https://parkinsonsfitness.org/about-fitness/class-instructors/) was recently invited by Linda Tickle-Degnen, PhD, OT, FQOTA and professor of the OT Department at Tufts University to participate as one of their guest faculty-staff participants at a university-sponsored Dance for Healthy Aging with Parkinson’s Disease workshop. The goal of the workshop was teaching Tufts OT students how to interact directly and collaboratively with people with Parkinson’s. To help accomplish the goal, Dianna invited two of her local Parkinson’s Fitness class members to accompany her to the event.
Showcasing the incredibly successful work in the field of dance to augment medical technologies used in combatting the progressively debilitating nature of Parkinson’s were David Leventhal, Program Director and founding teacher of the nationally acclaimed Dance for PD program, a nonprofit collaboration of MMDG and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group that leads dance classes around the world (https://danceforparkinsons.org/), and Pamela Quinn, professional dancer and Parkinson’s consultant for people with Parkinson’s, who has lived with her Parkinson’s diagnosis for over 20 years (https://pdmovementlab.com/about). Pam’s personal experience of dance and Parkinson’s gives her a unique perspective from which to analyze physical function, and to imagine creative solutions to the problems posed by Parkinson’s.
According to Quinn, “Dance by its very nature contributes to everyday health: working and stretching muscles leads to strength and flexibility; learning and remembering movement tones the brain; touch and partnering provide social contact, and creative context promotes expression and use of the imagination. People of any age, especially the elderly, need movement, fun, challenge, and connection. This workshop allowed participants to experience all those things first hand and helped them understand how to create such an environment for others as well.”
Quoting Dianna after the workshop experience: “It was great to be there alongside Devera and Elaine to represent our Parkinson’s Fitness community.”
Elaine Boone, one of Dianna’s class members, offers her experience of attending the event: “I really enjoy going to anything that will give me support and, even more, ways to keep me moving. The dance session was very uplifting. Pam and David made the exercises fun and us all so much good advice. Everyone with Parkinson’s should watch Pam’s videos. As someone with Parkinson’s herself, she has discovered so many different moves that can keep us all going. And I enjoyed working with the students. The more they can see people with Parkinson’s and what symptoms we have and what we can do to slow the progression down, the better for them.
Without programs and the wonderful people who give of their time, we would be lost. We couldn’t do it without you all, and thank you for inviting me to the sessions. Please keep up your wonderful work!”
Devera Ehrenberg, another member in Dianna’s classes, shares her positive experience: “The Dance for Health Aging day was full of wonderful exercises we created – starting with the introduction. Bach (or Mozart) filled the room and we moved to the music, creating our own dance, and what followed were flowing movements to other ideas we created. We broke into small groups. The one I was in created paintings – Jackson Pollock throwing paint on a canvas on the floor, or Seurat, lots of dots, etc., as other groups created movements for their ideas. Such wonderful, freeing movements! My Parkinson’s faded away and that lasted , for me, into the next day. I spent the next morning inventing dance movements! I loved it! Thanks for this opportunity.”
Something to remember: Pamela Quinn will join us as one of our presenters during the next Parkinson’s Fitness educational symposium on the North Shore in September. Be sure to watch for all the exciting details as we post them during the next couple of months!
WHOA! We all attended the start of our 8-week MedRhythms/Parkinson’s Fitness music therapy series for a number of reasons. We want to learn techniques for strengthening our voices so that we can continue to communicate effectively with others; we want to tap into the regions of our brains where music rhythms help trigger the signals that help us with mobility; we want to have fun singing while we learn together! The program is available for people with not only Parkinson’s, but also Multiple Sclerosis, stroke recovery, and traumatic brain injury therapy.
MedRhythms music therapist, Stian Hansen, and his assistant, Michi, introduced a group of 37 men and women to the opportunities that await us through their use of vocal sound variations, facial exercises, pitch “sliders”, musical instruments, rhythm tapping and, of course, singing!
Stian encouraged us to share our expectations for joining this new series, and he stayed after the session to speak personally with whoever had questions. We are certain that he will continue creating an ongoing program over the remaining weeks that will prove to be a wonderful tool for everyone who attends. And if the predicted snow for the upcoming week doesn’t force us to postpone our second session, the space provided for us at the Beverly Council on Aging will once again be alive with music from 2:00 to 3:30 PM!
Curious? Interested in attending? Please click here to email us or phone Linda Hall at Parkinson’s Fitness: 781-572-5918. To learn more about MedRhythms’ concepts, click here to visit their web site.
We had THE most incredible evening together on October 19th at our third annual fundraiser to help our programs continue!
One hundred-plus people gathered with us at the Danversport Yacht Club to share three hours of happy conversations, dancing and singing to the fantastic music provided by The MERJ – you missed a great mini “flash-mob” sequence secretly choreographed to “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered” by two of our very popular instructors, Dianna Daly and Kim Crowley, and some of their class members. The food was delicious and the silent auction and raffle items drew a lot of attention…thank you, donors and buyers!
And if you EVER hear that The MERJ band is playing near you, GO enjoy them! They are amazing and have music for every taste!
We’ll have photos to post soon, courtesy of our new friend, Lucas, a student from Endicott College in Beverly whose minor is in photography and who stepped forward to help us make memories when the photographer we’d recruited couldn’t come at the last minute! We’re looking forward to seeing his pictures and hopefully building a new relationship with him and creating future photos and videos of our classes!
As always, co-founder Linda Hall was on board tirelessly coordinating every detail. Her personal team of friends, led by Mary Orne, monitored the check-in and check-out tables and the databases of names…a huge undertaking they’ve handled for all three annual fundraisers! Keith Soper, artistic friend of the Hall’s, created the fundraiser invitation, and Jen Gonyea from Clarity Collaborative helped with all the necessary electronic communications to draw attention to the importance for holding the fundraiser. Co-founder, Keith Hall, was once again welcoming in his blend of humor and sincerity. Two Boston University/Sargent College rehabilitation specialists – Tami Deangelis and Teresa Baker – joined in with remarks about the work they perform and Keith’s participation in so many of their programs. Volunteer friend Marilyn Freeman read a poem she wrote and dedicated to Linda and Keith, and for anyone challenged with Parkinson’s or other life challenges:
When a New Day Dawns
For Keith and Linda Hall, who are the seekers, the listeners, and the singers of hope
Day comes again,
lighting a road still unmapped.
My mind joins dawn’s journey and I start to feel trapped.
Where can I go to escape words I’ve heard said
that shout their uncertainties so loud in my head?
The hands on the clock mimic my heart’s pulsing beat,
and the doctor’s diagnosis in my head still repeats.
How can I move toward a future when the deck is so stacked
with my questions unanswered – and often unasked?
I suppose I could just lie here,
willing off the obvious becoming now clear
that I’ll need to live a “different” life.
But who maps the way? Doctor, husband, family, wife?
I like my existence now, with its ups and its downs;
and I surely don’t want to feel somehow bound
to wondering if “Hope is the thing with feathers”,
will it sing songs for me?
Or will the changes scare away Hope’s bird,
leaving me doubts I wish I could free?
No one understands these thoughts – except for those who do.
It’s a see-saw of retreating – but then searching for the clues
for facing unknown tomorrows and seeking out the voices
that still sing through the storms and offer new choices.
Be a listener or be the bird who sings
Hope’s promise to self – and for others who cling
to their strengths oft’ forgotten – or yet still unknown –
tell them… “I’m like you, friend, and you’re not alone.”
October 19th was an evening that will be long remembered…and appreciated…by everyone on the Parkinson’s Fitness team. Thank you to all!