The Climb

Program Proves Utmost Importance for Parkinson’s Patients

Determination filled the room. Concentration lined their faces. Every movement was a calculated motion. The words one, two, three wafted in and out around the participants, while their bodies continually moved. The members know it is not how fast you get there that counts. They just want to beat the Parkinson’s disease that has invaded their systems or at least minimize the effects.
“I went into denial when I was first told about my disease, but exercise has been the key,” said participant Stacey Waters. “Programs such as The Climb push me to move forward and avoid getting stiff.”Determination filled the room. Concentration lined their faces. Every movement was a calculated motion. The words one, two, three wafted in and out around the participants, while their bodies continually moved. The members know it is not how fast you get there that counts. They just want to beat the Parkinson’s disease that has invaded their systems or at least minimize the effects.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Classes are held:
Tuesdays 4-5:30 p.m.
Thursdays 2-3:30 p.m.
Saturdays 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Community Life Center
407 N. Bluff Rd.
317-881-6778
Cost:  
Classes are $2.50 per session or 12 classes for $30, plus membership to the CLC
Note: If your health insurance includes Prime or Silver Sneakers, CLC membership is free.

Considered a movement disorder, Parkinson’s disease (PD) manifests itself through impaired and sometimes uncontrolled movements, such as involuntary tremors or reduced facial expressions. Researchers have found these causes are due to a lack of dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between the nerve cells and the brain.

As the disease progresses, neurons or cells within the brain and nervous system begin to deteriorate, causing communication interruptions between the brain, nervous system and other nerves and muscles. These breakdowns cause difficulty in multitasking, communicating, swallowing and walking. However, recent research shows that exercise assists PD patients’ brain cells in using dopamine more efficiently, slowing the progression of the disease.

A Partnership is Born

Thanks to a partnership with the Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation (IPF) and Mount Pleasant Christian Church’s Community Life Center (CLC), individuals with PD and their care partners have a place to refresh and renew themselves mentally, physically and spiritually from the effects of the disease. The program called The Climb provides a multilayered aspect to “exercise.” The trainers, therapists and volunteers involved understand that each client comes with their own set of strengths and weaknesses; consequently, while group-based, each PD participant receives an individual assessment of their disease to determine their personal exercise plan.

These plans, utilized within the group dynamics, have shown to provide unique support and increase in morale for everyone involved. “It means a lot – the safe space, the comfort of being with others who understand your struggles,” said care partner Tom Mason. “It helps people with Parkinson’s reclaim their lives, and it is as good for us [care partners] as it is for the patients.”

The Climb Starts at the CLC

According to the CLC Wellness Coordinator Penny Clayton, the Lord has had and continues to have His hand in this Greenwood program. Every lead and assistant instructor has received training from IPF and from Clayton, who obtained an additional certification in PWR! (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery). Instructors focus on four big PWR! movements – balance, stability, the range of motion and posture – all stances that cause daily struggles for patients with PD. While observing the class, one activity worked on balance by dancing in small groups ’50s and ’60s-style. It forced the feet not to shuffle and created hilarious fun for all.

Clayton said another God-given gift came in the form of a professional speech therapist. Many PD patients find it hard to enunciate words clearly. In the midst of trying to hire a speech therapist, a wonderful woman, unaware of the therapist search, consulted Clayton about using her therapy background as a volunteer. Today, The Climb is grateful to have this lovely woman twice a month on Saturdays to help with speech issues.

In closing, Clayton said, “I believe The Climb is vitally important in helping our clients stay mobile. Everyday activities that we take for granted like buttoning a shirt or turning over in bed can be an undertaking for our participants. They are so willing to try new exercises, to push themselves because they feel better and movements are smoother. However, more than exercise, I believe this program, emotionally and socially, has been of the utmost importance in the lives of not only those with Parkinson’s but their care partners as well. Their demeanor with one another is a beautiful scene to behold.”

To observe a free class or join The Climb program, contact Penny Clayton at 317-881-6727 or pclayton@mpccministry.com.

Writer / Tonja Talley         Photographer / Ron Stiemert