It’s amazing how a journey can start.
Two years ago as a caregiver, I was visiting one of my Parkinson’s clients in Harrogate. Whilst getting him ready to go to his exercise class I was chatting with his wife. Somehow we got onto the topic of my social enterprise and the work we had started in Lincoln with our dementia golf days. She asked me ” Have you ever thought about doing something similar for people with Parkinson’s ?”
Talk about a “light bulb moment”. I’d never even considered testing whether golf could have the same positive impact on people with Parkinson’s. Shortly afterwards we decided to approach a local golf club to see whether there was an appetite for a Parkinson’s pilot. The answer was a resounding “yes”.
In partnership with Rudding Park Golf Club (Harrogate), the local Parkinson’s branch and a few golfing volunteers, we arranged the first golf session in April 2016. The rest as they say is history as the sessions have proved to be a resounding success.
It seems more than a co-incidence that on World Parkinson’s Day in April it will be two years to the days since we started the pilot. It’s been an inspirational two years and proved what a powerful therapy golf can be for people with Parkinson’s.
So why have the golf sessions been so popular?
Apart from the obvious benefits of physical exercise, the sessions have offered people the chance to learn new skills, meet new people, share experiences, build friendships and raise their self-esteem.
One of our Parkinson’s golfers said the reason she loved the sessions so much was that “no-one is judgemental, everyone is positive and I’m achieving things I never thought I was capable of”.
This is what you get when you treat someone as an individual, spend time teaching them the key skills they need to enjoy golf, offer encouragement and patience and set realistic goals that everyone can achieve. Oh, and by the way, when you MAKE IT FUN TOO.
As well as continuing with our fortnightly golf days, the year ahead will see some of the golfers we’ve coached progress their “golfing careers” at other local courses, where they will be given the opportunity and support to further develop their skills and golfing friendships.
None of this would have been possible without the fantastic support of Rudding Park, their members and some amazing people with Parkinson’s who refuse to “give in” to the disease, still wanting to enjoy a full and active life for as long as possible.
Way back in 2016 when we began one of our Parkinson’s golfers arrived in a wheelchair. Two years on he now walks around the course unaided and enjoys his golf as much as the rest of us.
This is just one of the many personal success stories in what has been an inspirational journey…. and we’re not finished yet!