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Yoga Reach: Mindful Movement for Parkinson’s Disease

June 4th, 2018 by Guest Blogger

Yoga is one of the complementary therapies that can be beneficial to those living with Parkinson’s disease. Char Grossman offers adaptive therapeutic yoga to members of the Parkinson’s community in Cleveland, Ohio and will be offering a YogaReach Mindful Movement workshop for for PD professionals in July at Mark Morris Dance Company in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for more information and scroll down to learn more about her experience with yoga.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

 

In 2004, I became the founder of YogaReach, LLC, an adaptive therapeutic yoga program for people with medical challenges. My program became a continuing education resource that works with like-minded organizations and provides group/private adaptive therapeutic yoga programs and professional training workshops. At this point of my life, I had no familiarity with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

As a nationally certified school psychologist and yoga teacher, I was ready to provide services. Being a stroke survivor, I understood neuromuscular conditions. Suddenly, clients with PD began attending my program. I needed to broaden my education. I undertook education classes, became a certified yoga therapist and took a deep breath. As I reached to the sky, I combined “body, mind and spirit” which incorporated adaptive techniques to strengthen the needs of people with PD. Ironically, a few years after this creation, my father was diagnosed with PD.  Life changes.

I began teaching at InMotion, a non-profit center in Cleveland, Ohio devoted to the health and well-being of those affected by Parkinson’s disease, when they opened their doors three years ago. InMotion offers free exercise, art, music, dance and support groups. With my instructors, I teach three sold-out Mindful Movement Yoga classes weekly. Our clients and their carepartners report an overall increase in physical and emotional wellbeing from attending YogaReach Mindful Movement Yoga classes.

Our classes teach students with PD how to reenact adapted yoga movement sequences outside of class to improve their daily life skills (e.g., reaching for objects, driving a car). By uniting thought and action, our therapeutic yoga instruction encourages participants to reinforce weakened skills and gain new skills they thought impossible. Individualized instruction is taught in a positive, relaxed environment that encourages mindfulness, decreases stress and highlights socialization. As a result, our students feel reinvigorated. Our eclectic program consists of yoga therapy skills, Dance for PD techniques, and Delay the Disease interventions.

Two years ago, I attended the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. The gratitude I experienced at the Unity Walk was endless and similar to my experience of teaching yoga classes to those living with PD.

An additional part of the success I feel when serving people with PD, comes from nation-wide YogaReach Mindful Movement for PD Professional Workshops. Yoga professionals, allied health providers, fitness trainers, educators and wellness instructors have been taught to add skills that benefit people with PD to their area of expertise. The workshop has recently been presented in Florida and Arizona, which developed targeted programs for growing communities living with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
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In order to offer more services to our compassionate population, I have the opportunity to offer the workshop this July at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for more information. I am excited about the benefits that this can offer Parkinson’s communities in different areas of the country.

Change in lives, affects all of us. I am honored to consistently serve such amazing people. We have learned, “If you put your body and your mind together, you’ll see changes”  – and we do see those changes! We know that the Parkinson’s Unity Walk is part of creating that positive change.

Char Grossman
Director and Founder of YogaReach
Cleveland Ohio

 

The Today Show 4.27.18 – Join Us!!!

April 18th, 2018 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team


Join the Unity Walk on the plaza of the Today Show on Friday, April 27th! All Unity Walkers are invited to show your support by joining us. We’ll be there carrying PUW signs and banners, and making some noise – all to raise awareness of the Unity Walk!

We will meet in front of the main entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 6:00-6:15am. That’s the building that the Christmas tree is in front of in the winter. Rockefeller Plaza runs between 49th and 50th Streets and is parallel to and in between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. At approximately 6:15am, someone from the Today Show staff will escort us onto the plaza. If you arrive after 6:15am, find a staff person at the front of the line on West 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and tell them you’re with the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. They will arrange for you to meet our group on the plaza. You can also call me on my cell when you arrive and I can call a staff person for you. My cell number is 609-651-9155. If you arrive past 6:30am when they let the general public onto the plaza, we will do our best to hold a spot for you with our group but we can’t guarantee it at that point.

We hope you can join us in person. If you’re watching from home, use our hashtag #puw2018 and let us know you’re with us in spirit.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

The Hallmark of Team Impax’s Success: Fostering a Fun, Engaging Culture Focused on Helping People Living with Parkinson’s

April 11th, 2018 by Guest Blogger

It is the generous support of our sponsors that allows PUW to keep its commitment that 100% of all donations support Parkinson’s research. One of our sponsors, Impax has created a team and is involving their employees in the fundraising process. Engaging them in the Unity Walk is a great way for them to have a first hand experience of the community they support every day through their work. I attended their Kick-Off Rally and got to see what a great job they are doing!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

The secret behind Team Impax’s fundraising success is simple…making it fun for employees, having the full support of our senior leaders and most important, always bringing it back to our focus on helping people living with Parkinson’s disease.  As a pharmaceutical company, our passion is to make a difference through the medicines we manufacture and distribute to patients.

We plan our fundraising activities about 8 weeks in advance of the Unity Walk with a SAVE the DATE announcement to our employees along with a call for volunteers to serve on our Event Committee. The Event Committee plans our Kick-Off Rally where we invite an individual living with Parkinson’s disease to tell their personal story. Always compelling and incredibly moving, it’s our speakers’ courage that inspires Team Impax to continue to raise awareness and funds.

Steve Sost (VP – Internal Communications and Team Impax Steering Committee member) makes a purchase at the 2017 Team Impax Bake & Snack Sale.

To encourage maximum attendance at the Rally, we serve lunch and offer door prizes as well as a table where employees can register for the walk. We also offer donation incentives based on the level of giving such as Team Impax t-shirts and jackets. Our Bake & Snack Sales are super popular and we intentionally do not put prices on anything we sell. We find that by leaving it up to our employees to decide the price, donations are far greater than how we would price any item. We also replicate good ideas and our Silent Auction has been very successful.  Items are generously donated by employees and our vendor partners. This year we are posting our auction online so that employees can bid across sites, including our field-based colleagues.

None of this would be possible without committed employees and the support and encouragement we receive from the Team Impax Steering Committee, comprised of several senior executives. They promote a positive company culture that encourages participation in community events that can have a profound impact on raising awareness for chronic and progressive diseases.

Team Impax

Michelle Foster, Human Resources Business Partner, gets ready to board the Team Impax bus en route to the 2016 Parkinson’s Unity Walk.

Stronger Together – When Your Workplace Supports Your Life

April 4th, 2018 by Guest Blogger

I was surprised to see a new team this year with a team captain who had been the team captain of her family team in the past. When I called to ask if she was the same person, she explained that her company, Healthline has offered to create a company team that will combine forces with her family team. They are even making a donation for each employee who participates in the Unity Walk! It is a true example of a company living out their values. It made me think that there are probably other companies out there who would be willing to do something similar. Sometimes, all it takes is the willingness to ask the question.
Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director


In 2014, my older sister and I participated in Parkinson’s Unity Walk for the first time, joined by a few close friends and her charming dog, Chaplin. The experience was inspiring; for the first time since our father’s diagnosis in 2002, my sister and I spoke with other caregivers and left feeling filled with hope. The Unity Walk isn’t just about raising money and awareness — it’s about finding a community, lifting spirits, and offering support.

The Walk became a tradition for us from that moment. Since 2014, we’ve walked as team “Hot, Hot, Hot,” a name chosen in homage to one of our father’s favorite songs he played for us when we were kids. We’re continuing the tradition this year, but this time we’re welcoming a new family and team name: Healthline.

I started working for Healthline last May, and it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life. A leading health information site, Healthline’s mission to is to be your most trusted ally in your pursuit of health and well-being — a mission accomplished through the empathy offered in all of the site’s content. This empathy is at the core of the company, and it’s something Healthline extends to its employees, as well.

Knowing of my father’s illness, Healthline started a team this year for the Unity Walk, and my family and I are thrilled to join forces. I was moved to tears when I found out that the company will also be donating $50 to the Walk for every person that signs up for our Healthline team.

I’ve had work families before, but I’ve never felt more supported, appreciated, and optimistic for my father’s future as I do now. Healthline’s willingness to show support for those affected by PD (just as they do with many other health conditions) is proof that we’re all stronger together, capable of changing lives, and, at our core, filled with empathy.

Talia Aroshas
Team Captain, Healthline

What’s Your Superpower?

March 28th, 2018 by Guest Blogger

We’re always interested in learning creative ways that our walkers are raising funds for Parkinson’s research and then look for opportunities to share that information with our walkers. A recent conversation prompted me to ask Doug Shapiro to share his experience on our blog.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director


I’m gearing up for my third year of walking and fundraising and have a question for you.

What is your superpower?

There’s something you love to do and at which you’re really good. With a little creative thinking, you can turn that calling into some powerful fundraising.

Suppose your superpower is making really delicious meals at a really low cost. How about for every $75 someone donates to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, you’ll make a lasagna and divide it into seven easily freezable sections? You certainly know people who don’t have the time to make food on their own and would probably not mind eating the same thing for dinner for a week.

Do people constantly compliment your speaking voice and love your sense of humor? For a $50 donation you could record their outgoing answering machine message or record a short story for their kids to listen to at night before bed.

Are you a master of yard work? For a $100 donation, you’ll start turning over their lawn from winter to spring.

In one of my side careers, I’m a career coach with Accelerated Artist. So last year I started “Coaching for the Cure.” For every $50 donation through my fundraising page, I offered an hour of career coaching. One client even bought ten sessions-worth! In fact, so many people took me up on the offer that I ended up doing 29 hours of coaching.

The results? A 33% increase in money raised towards Parkinson’s research and resources from my prior year!

On a side note, many of these people ended up becoming regular clients of mine. You may find that attaching a monetary value to what you love to do may blossom into a brilliant side career!

So, start organizing your friends’ closets, walk those dogs, fix those cars and paint those pet rocks. Bring in those donations by bringing what you love, your superpower, into the world.

Look forward to walking with you on the 28th of April!

Doug Shapiro
PUW walker