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Dance for Health Seniors

Dance for Health Seniors

Age-Friendly Grant Launches a Province-Wide Dance for Parkinson’s Project

Dance Nova Scotia’s Dance for Health program welcomes the support of Nova Scotia’s Age-Friendly Communities Program funding from the Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care. Full funding of $25,000 is to train dance teachers, movement educators and therapists to use dance in treating the motor challenges of people living with Parkinson’s.

This funding will pay for Dr. Rebecca Barnstaple, a dance/movement therapist and neuroscientist, to train five Nova Scotia teachers and therapists, who will in turn train interested dance and health professionals in dance-based methods for addressing movement challenges, focusing on people with Parkinson’s. Dr. Barnstable will be teaching modalities she has been using successfully with patients in her dance/movement therapy practice in Ontario.

“This grant will give people with Parkinson’s access to classes that will make their lives better,” said project director Elizabeth MacDonald. “Recent studies demonstrate the effectiveness of many forms of dance in reducing symptoms and enhancing the quality of the lives of those who may struggle with those symptoms.”

Doug McEwen, who has Parkinson’s, has been participating for several months with others with Parkinson’s in a dance class at the Old School Community Gathering Place in Musquodoboit Harbour. “I am finding the classes very helpful, especially seeing that others who struggle like I do are benefitting from what we are learning,” McEwen said. “I am reclaiming some movement choices and feel more in charge of what is happening to my body.”

Over the next twelve months, many more Nova Scotians will benefit as more teachers and therapists learn how to integrate dance into their work with patients. “We are grateful to the province for their support of the ways dance can be a healing modality,” said Cliff Le Jeune, the Executive Director of Dance Nova Scotia. “We look forward to connecting with the teachers and therapists who will bring this work to people in need."

Supporting this initiative as partners are Parkinson Canada, Nova Scotia Fitness Association (NSFA) and the Old School Gathering Place in Musquodoboit Harbour.

For more information, including how to participate as a teacher or participant, please email: