Chance to step out and ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’

Jimmy McClean, Ballymena Parkinson's branch chair, dance facilitator Charmaine McMeekin and Margaret Parkinson, Ballymena branch committee member.
Jimmy McClean, Ballymena Parkinson's branch chair, dance facilitator Charmaine McMeekin and Margaret Parkinson, Ballymena branch committee member.

Do you have Parkinson’s? Would you be interested in discovering a fun new way to exercise?

The Parkinson’s UK Ballymena and district branch are running another series of classes based on the internationally recognised “Dance for Parkinson’s” method.

Around the world, participants have reported that the classes boost their confidence levels, transform their attitudes about living with a chronic illness, and help them manage some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.  

The classes are a continuation of the very popular “Dance for Parkinson’s” programme which took place last year, however, the decision was made to change the name from dance to movement.

Chairperson, James McClean, said: The classes are very beneficial and give you a good workout, but we were concerned that people might be expecting something more in the style of a tea dance, so we decided to rename them.”

Research suggests doing 2.5 hours of exercise a week can slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. Exercise can also help with sleep problems, fatigue, mood and mental health and findings now suggest that exercise is equally as important as medication for managing Parkinson’s.

A growing body of evidence points to the real physical, mental and social benefits experienced by people living with Parkinson’s when they dance. For example, research into English National Ballet’s (ENB) dance and Parkinson’s programme, published in 2015 by Dr Sara Houston of Roehampton University, concluded that dance as a group activity can: Encourage feelings of inclusion and positive social interaction; Promote a sense of community that is particularly meaningful, motivating and energising for people living with Parkinson’s; Aid fluency of movement; Help people with Parkinson’s communicate and express themselves.

Parkinson’s UK Area Development Manager Anna Murray is delighted with the new opportunity.

She said: “It’s great to see new and innovative ways of managing Parkinson’s and the associated symptoms being embraced and this is something we are working on to make available more widely across all of Northern Ireland”.

The classes in Ballymena will be taught by dance facilitator Charmaine McMeekin, who specialises in movement and dance and has extensive professional experience in engaging people with differing degrees of learning and physical abilities and also working creatively using dance with older people in a healthcare setting.

Charmaine and everyone else at the Ballymena and district branch are looking forward to welcoming new participants to the classes, which begin on Wednesday, February 5, from 2-4pm in the Ballymena North Centre and will run for eight weeks.

No membership or cost is required and people planning to attend ca n feel free to bring a friend or carer if they wish.

For further information please contact Jimmy McClean, by calling 07826 336698 or email: