During the last two years, close to 200 people suffering from Parkinson’s, are taking an active part in dance classes that offer help to people with this disease. Those taking part told us that these classes helped them, not just physically and mentally but also socially – allowing them to meet people and become a family.
Two and a half years ago, Step Up for Parkinson’s, a voluntary organization founded by Natalie Muschamp, was set up with a small number of participants, which today has risen to close to 200 people. We visited one of the dance classes conducted in six locations for people with Parkinson’s, and we met participants as they were getting ready for their dance class.
We spoke to the youngest participant, David Borda 47, who discovered he had Parkinson’s when he was only 40 years old.
“Initially I did not take it well at all but since I am a fighter I told myself I can either fall to pieces or fight. And I chose to fight, and the fact that you fighting and are positive is part of championing your illness. I have adapted myself to life with Parkinson’s with all the limitations that it brings. ”
Carmen Seychell told us that among other factors, Parkinson’s should be faced with courage.
“If you feel sorry for yourself in life, you won’t achieve anything. You need to be courageous. If I had to feel sorry for myself I would wake up like a robot because I am stiff all over but as soon as my feet touch the ground, I say today is another day, I shower and get ready to start the day. When I feel tired I stop what I am doing and I continue later.”
We asked David and Carmen how the Step Up for Parkinson’s dance classes were helping them.
David Borda said “besides the human health aspect there is also the human aspect and the family aspect – everything is combined.”
Carmen Seychell said “before I started the classes here, I had many problems. I would fall, stiffen up, I wouldn’t be able to hurry up when crossing the road. Since I have started coming here I have found a lot of help, first of all psychologically because although everyone is different, you feel better when you meet people who have the same problems; but I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself so that was also a great help. ”
One of the teachers Michelle Firman, stressed that exercising and dancing are therapeutic for participants.
” We do a number of exercises here that target the different symptoms of Parkinson’s, and most of all they come here to dance and have fun.”
Michelle insisted that these classes are free and are open to anyone who needs them. The organization works through fund-raising activities organised with the help of the Malta Community Chest Fund and the Malta Memorial District Nursing Association.