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Unique dance class offered to those living with Parkinson's

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A unique opportunity for those living with Parkinson's disease is available weekly at the Trinity Anglican Church in Parry Sound.

The 'Dancing With Parkinson's' program is the only one of its kind between Toronto and Sudbury and specifically caters to the needs and abilities of those with Parkinson's.

The class was launched in 2016 by ballet instructor Julie Lea, who has since dedicated herself to the cause, taking annual accreditation courses to ensure her training is always current.

Participants with the Dancing With Parkinson's class in Parry Sound, Ont., on Wed., May 15, 2024. (CTV News/Catalina Gillies)

Despite her ballet background, Lea's classes are not about mastering technique. Instead, she emphasizes imagination and imagery. For instance, she might instruct participants to "imagine an ant on the floor, reach your toe forward to touch the ant and slide it back toward yourself." This creative approach helps participants focus on the joy of movement rather than the precision.

The class structure is broken into three parts: a seated stretching warmup, a dance bar segment, and floor and space movement exercises. The progression helps to gently build physical strength, enhance motor control, and improve balance.

Beyond the physical benefits, the class of roughly 18 participants aims to boost self-esteem and confidence while providing an enjoyable and socially engaging activity.

The 70-minute sessions run Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.

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