Parkinson’s Foundation Expands Online Programs During Pandemic

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Parkinson’s Foundation is expanding its virtual programming to support the Parkinson’s disease (PD) community during the global COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of its efforts, the organization is moving its signature fundraising walk event — Parkinson’s Moving Day — online, and adding or enhancing other online wellness and educational offerings.

Older adults are at the highest risk of a severe COVID-19 infection should they be exposed to the virus. Because Parkinson’s patients tend to be older, they are advised to take extra precautions to protect themselves, including practicing social distancing.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we want to ensure that the entire Parkinson’s community has access to valuable education, health, and wellness resources to help them live better and stay safe and healthy,” John L. Lehr, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “We want the community to know that the Parkinson’s Foundation is here to support your health and wellbeing during this pandemic.”

To raise awareness of Parkinson’s as well as money to support care and research, the foundation will host virtual Moving Day walks this fall in 18 cities. Those in cities without a walk are welcome to participate in Moving Day USA. The Nov. 7 virtual event will feature presentations by patients and fitness experts, plus Parkinson’s-friendly workout sessions.

To raise funds, participants are encouraged to take a safe walk in their community as individuals or Moving Day team members.

“As a Moving Day committee chair, and a person living with Parkinson’s disease, I can say that moving with others in the PD community on Moving Day is inspirational and an important opportunity to increase the awareness of the disease — it’s an empowering moment,” said Anna Grill, Moving Day committee member for Washington, D.C. “I invite the entire Parkinson’s community to move with us and help raise funds vital to sustaining the foundation’s important work in research, resources, and education.”

New events are also being offered as part of PD Health@Home, the nonprofit foundation’s virtual education and wellness program. It includes resources and three weekly events aimed at helping patients and caregivers cope with social isolation. Offerings range from mindfulness techniques, educational webinars, and guest lectures to a fitness program led by a physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s care.

The foundation also launched Parkinson’s Champions@Home, a virtual nationwide fundraising event that includes 5K, 10K, or marathon runs people can complete in their neighborhoods.