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PJ Parkinson's Support Group and the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble partner to provide free movement classes

Exercise classes on Zoom can be a great way to stay in shape and stay in touch. For people with Parkinson's Disease, 'Dance for Parkinson's' fills a critical need.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Moving is crucial for people with Parkinson's Disease.

In fact, it's called a movement disorder because it is marked by tremors, stiffness and rigid muscles. 

That's why PJ Parkinson's Support Group has offered a variety of free movement classes over the years, many led by Executive Director Isabell Senft-Daniel.

"With Covid it's not really easy to manage. And that's how we came up with the idea to have some new classes that are online at the moment with Zoom meetings,"she said. 

The new Zoom classes are a partnership between PJ Parkinson's and the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble based out of Dancers Studio.

"We have around 15 to 18 people in the class. We also have people joining from other countries from Europe. We have people joining from other states," she said. 

Amy Renee Wilson is the Associate Artistic Director for the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble. She leads the Dancers Studio Dance for Parkinson's classes where there are no wrong moves. 

"There's a lot of imagery that we use. We will go to a place like, for example, we'll go to the beach. And we'll experience the waves and we'll move together. We'll go to the ball game or you know and throw the ball or bounce the ball," she said. 

Isabell said, "There are people on Zoom that would not be able to join the class normally, and everybody is really happy that they have something they can do."

The students enjoy the free classes and so does the instructor.

Amy Renee said, "Seeing them just reach an arm up and back down without having tremors was amazing to watch." 

It is a pilot program that could evolve into a hybrid class, part on Zoom part in person.

And there may be a future collaboration between the Parkinson's patients and dance ensemble members acting as ambassadors.

But for now, there's value in just gathering together even if it is online.

"I think the socializing aspect is a big part of the class," Isabell said. 

The Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble is based at the Dancers Studio on Sutherland. 

They hope to build a pavilion behind the building so they can teach dance classes outdoors. 

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