The programme uses dance to address Parkinson’s specific symptoms like balance, cognition, motor skills, depression and physical confidence.
The Dance for Parkinson’s therapy programme was brought to South Africa by Julie Symmonds. A passionate dance teacher that sold her dance school to focus on bettering the lives of people with Parkinson’s.
“In 2015, Audrey Beesley, approached me with an idea. She had been bringing her granddaughter to ballet for a few years. She has Parkinson’s and told me about the link she had seen on the Internet about a program called Dance for PD ( Parkinson’s Disease). A few months later, I looked into the link and I was immediately hooked.” – Julie Symmonds
She traveled to New York to start the first step in the certified training programme. As she continues her training she will become qualified to train and certify other teachers across South Africa. At present the programme is only available in Somerset West, Gardens and Pinelands in the Western Cape.
Dance for PD classes allow people with Parkinson’s to experience the joys and benefits of dance while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skills, depression and physical confidence.
The dance classes were started in New York 15 years ago, their success is evident in the fact that there are now teachers from 17 different countries hosting the programme for people with Parkinson’s.
Julie has to return to New York to complete the next step in her training. This step is the one that will allow her to train South African dance teachers in the therapy. Julie was awarded a bursary that covers the course fee’s however her travel costs and certification fee are not covered.
She has started a crowdfund to help raise the remaining funds needed to complete the coursework and spread the therapy across South Africa. The video below is of the therapy in action!