World Parkinson's Day

Today officially marks World Parkinson's Day; a day to shine a light on the stories of those who have, or care for someone with Parkinson's...

What is Parkinson's?
If you know 66 people, chances are you know someone who has been affected by Parkinson's. It is a progressive neurological condition that causes problems in the brain and worsens over time. There is currently no cure for Parkinson's, but there are lots of different treatments, therapies and support available to help manage the condition.

Parkinson's Dance Class

Forest Arts Centre facilitates a Parkinson's Dance Class every Monday, and has done so since 2018, with on average 15 participants each session, including carers and partners. The Parkinson's Dance Class follows the Parkinson's Dance Science Model - founded by dance practitioner Aimee Hobbs and Dr. Sophia Hulbert from Pavilion Dance South West, and also practiced by Dorchester Arts and Artslink Fizz!.

The Parkinson's Dance Class sparks imagination, nurtures expression and empowers our bodies and minds to move and invent as the individuals we are, rather than the condition we have. Not only does the class make a physical difference to daily lives, but it also provides a creative, fun, safe and social space for people to meet. Here's just some of what our participants value most from the classes...


"The social side."

"Carers get as much out of it as the participants."

In 2019 Forest Arts Centre came second in the Tesco Bags of Help community fund - we were given £2000, plus cheques from local organisations and charities to help keep the class subsidised and able to continue. With this £2000 we have been able to facilitate the following:

  1. Parkinson's Walks

In 2019 and 2020 we hosted walks for people with Parkinson's along the sea front and more recently in the New Forest - this was a social experience, paired with guided meditation and walks in natural environments to promote wellbeing.

"Nothing better than walking in the sunshine, watching the seasons change." - Walk participant

2. Wellbeing Café

Wellbeing Café in early 2020

Three free Wellbeing Café sessions were delivered in early 2020, incorporating art, dance and socialising to encourage wellbeing.

"I made friends and we are going to socialise - I love learning a dance routine and more or less doing the same as others. It did make me laugh as I had both feet off the ground for the first time in years." - Workshop participant

3. Online Classes

Parkinson's Dance class online in 2020

As soon as the first COVID-19 lockdown was announced, the Parkinson's Dance Science Network came together to produce pre-recorded YouTube videos for all participants to follow at home. Together we created 23 videos and four sound bites...

Parkinson's Dance Class YouTube video in 2020

As soon as we were able, the network worked together to produce live online Zoom classes to help people feel less isolated, as well giving them an opportunity to move at home.

"Exercise, exercise, exercise - you can't get enough of it. Thank you for all the thought you Julie and Liz are putting to our wellbeing! One feels isolated at home!" - Online class participant

We have achieved a lot in the past two years to encourage wellbeing with our Forest Arts Centre Parkinson's participants. In order to continue to deliver art and cultural activities like this, we need your help at the trust now more than ever.

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This article was written by:
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Jasmine Taylor

Community Programme Coordinator at Forest Arts Centre in charge of Classes, Workshop and Community Outreach projects to engage and enrich the local New Milton Community.
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