Fighting Fit Weekend – A Huge Success!

Fighting Fit Weekend – A Huge Success!

19 participants attended the Fighting Fit pilot programme from 9thto 11thNovember at the Holiday Inn near Aylesbury. Most people said that they had an action packed, fun-filled and truly memorable time – one even said that the experience was “life-changing”.

The delegates were all of working-age and they travelled from all over the country to participate; two even flew in from Dublin. Five people attended with their partners/friends.

Everyone really valued the opportunity to meet and build friendships  – some said that it was the first time they had ever been able to talk openly to others who share their experiences.

The agenda was packed with exercise sessions and social activities as well as being grounded in presentations and workshops.

According to the delegates the highlights were the Tai Chi, PD Power and Boxing sessions in the gym but people were surprised how much they enjoyed the singing and dancing programmes too.

The talks on exercise and neuroplasticity, the workshop on psychological wellbeing and the session on medication were particularly highly valued.

One participant said “I think the weekend was great and will impact my life”. Another said “I definitely feel much more educated, informed and positive about the future”.

At the end of the programme people were encouraged to make written promises to themselves in a workbook detailing the things they plan to do differently in the future. In their feedback, one person said, “I will commit to do more exercise – I promise!”.

Everyone loved being in a residential, wellness setting for two days with such good facilities that included a gym and swimming pool.

One participant captured her thoughts wonderfully in the livingwithPD blog including the statement “Thank you to everyone who took part. I learned so much from all of you and it was a privilege to share the weekend with such inspirational and caring and supportive people”.

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) Promotes Fighting Fit

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) Promotes Fighting Fit

Fighting Fit is proud that the EPDA is promoting the Fighting Fit programme.

The EPDA is the main European organisation focusing on raising awareness of Parkinson’s and has been championing and working with the global Parkinson’s community for 25 years. It provides information and resources to all Parkinson’s stakeholders, raising awareness of the disease’s complexities and impact, and advocating for concrete policy change that can benefit the Parkinson’s community.

The article about Fighting Fit which includes interview with two of the co-founders, Pat Salter and Laurel Miller, can be found here.

In the article EPDA mentions the five things that PwP should know about Fighting Fit which are as follows:

  1. As well as accessing information, participants will have the chance to try out exercise and activities and share their concerns and anxieties.

The programme will include dancing and boxing sessions, as well as covering topics such as employment rights and benefits and personal relationships.

“What makes Fighting Fit different is its focus on the ways that assistive technology can help PwP, the development of skills for working life and the sharing of information about employment rights, finance and relationships,” said Laurel.

Pat added: “We will encourage participants to experiment with exercise, reinforcing its importance as medication. People will have the space to consider how best to take new ideas forward in their life.”

  1. The programme is open to a mix of PwPs attending alone, and those bringing partners.

There are spaces for 18 people – likely to be six PwPs to attend on their own and a further six with partners. “The split in the number of places on the pilot may vary but we don’t plan to accommodate more than 18 people in total,” explained Pat.

Laurel added: “We are hoping that people attending the programme will build trusting relationships during the programme that they may want to maintain after the weekend. We will be helping to facilitate this if it seen as helpful – either through the use of a Facebook Group or WhatsApp. Sharing experience with like-minded people in a safe setting is a core part of what we believe will make this programme successful and different.”

  1. The programme is designed specifically for younger and working-age PwPs

“We think it is likely to be more beneficial for people who have been diagnosed more than 18 months,” said Laurel. “Some participants may be retired for different reasons.”

  1. The fully-inclusive weekend package will be held between 9-11 November 2018 at the Holiday Inn, Weston Turville, Buckinghamshire, UK.

It costs £150 for a single place, or £250 per couple. “We are grateful for the support of Parkinson’s UK which has enabled us to create a weekend for the pilot programme that most people will consider to be good value for money,” says Laurel. “However, looking to the future, we are considering ways to provide financial support or funded places for people that would like to attend but cannot afford to.”

  1. This pilot is hoped to be the successful first in a series of Fighting Fit events.

“We will refine the programme based on the feedback received and if there is sufficient demand arrange series of further weekend programmes in 2019 at the same location,” said Laurel. “We may open another centre in a different part of the country if there is sufficient demand. In the long term we want to increase awareness by publicising the programme to attract those younger and working-age PwPs who wouldn’t normally get involved in group activities.”

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

Dr Bronwen Bonfield to lead Fighting Fit sessions on psychological wellbeing and relationships

Dr Bronwen Bonfield to lead Fighting Fit sessions on psychological wellbeing and relationships

Fighting Fit has been designed to help younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s live their lives in the presence of the difficulties they face whilst connecting to things that are important in the here and now.

A critical element of the weekend programme is a session on psychological wellbeing and relationships. This will be delivered by Dr Bronwen Bonfield, a Principal Clinical Psychologist specialising in neuropsychology for the NHS.

Bronwen is an experienced clinician in this field and says “Parkinson’s can affect your relationships with partners, family, friends and work colleagues. There are things you can do to adapt to these changes and fit them into your life and we plan to explore some of the issues involved”.

Studies show that apathy is very common in people with Parkinson’s and may affect up to 70% of people with the condition. So what’s to do about it? We will explore how simple steps can help you to manage the condition.

Bronwen adds “Taking care of your psychological well-being and mental health is a vital part of managing your Parkinson’s. We will talk about learning how to live life to the full with Parkinson’s including motivation, sleep hygiene, self-management and techniques to help reduce stress”.

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

Dancing Proves A Good Move For People With Parkinson’s

Dancing Proves A Good Move For People With Parkinson’s

Staying active is crucial for those with Parkinson’s and dancing has been shown to improve flexibility, as well as lifting the mood.

Fighting Fit is delighted that Rebecca Jackson has agreed to lead the dancing session which is an integral part of the residential weekend programme.

Rebecca is a physiotherapist and former British National Professional Ballroom Dancing finalist.

Dance teachers have been working with people with Parkinson’s for more than a decade in the US however, interest has been growing in the UK in the past few years. “It started as a way to combine music and exercise with social interaction. It’s a real ice-breaking activity which encourages people to talk to one another” says Rebecca.

She added “Group dance sessions help to improve balance, muscle strength, range of movement, coordination, exercise tolerance, and mood”.

New research shows that dance is a great form of exercise and is a good alternative to normal physiotherapy. Rebecca says “It’s a great way to get people engaged in their therapy and enjoying themselves at the same time”.

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

‘Tai Chi Is For Everyone’ Says Alison Smith

‘Tai Chi Is For Everyone’ Says Alison Smith

We are delighted that Alison Smith has agreed to lead the Tai Chi session that is a key part of the Fighting Fit weekend programme.

Alison first began Tai Chi in 1979. In 2003 she set up ‘Tai Chi for Everyone’ and now specialises in teaching Tai Chi for people with health and mobility problems, including people with Parkinson’s.

A qualified teacher, Alison is an Advanced Instructor of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain and an instructor supporting stroke survivors who want to improve their functional movement.

Asked about the impact of Tai Chi on Parkinson’s Alison said “Recent research study findings have shown that individuals taking part in Tai Chi have experienced improvements in Parkinson’s-related motor symptoms, balance and mobility as well as a reduced number of falls. People also found that engagement in Tai Chi exercises can help improve quality of life and reduce depression”.

She added “This supports what we all instinctively know – there is a strong link between mind and body and the research supports the theory that exercise can positively affect many aspects of quality of life”.

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.

‘Parkinsons Life’ Shines A Light On Fighting Fit

‘Parkinsons Life’ Shines A Light On Fighting Fit

Parkinson’s Life, the leading European online newsletter for people with Parkinson’s chose to interview Fighting Fit co-founders Pat Salter and Laurel Miller who were both diagnosed with Parkinson’s while still in work, about the specific problems younger people with Parkinson’s face – and how they can continue to thrive in the workplace.

The article can be read on the Parkinson’s Life website and explores various aspects of the Fighting Fit programme, how it was conceived and developed and what the plans are for the future.

The article quotes Laurel as saying “It’s important for younger people to overcome feelings of isolation and stop thinking there’s no one else like this around them. There are – it’s just a question of connecting us all.”

Fighting Fit is an innovative residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson’s that encourages self-management. The aim is to provide information and sign-posting, to share experiences and discuss the practical and emotional impact of living and working with Parkinson’s.

If you want to find out more, you can either contact us, or sign up to our newsletter which will provide you with updates and news about this exciting opportunity.