A few weeks ago in Austin, the Tribe Wellness community from Dallas came together with staff and friends of the Davis Phinney Foundation to test their training and raise money for the Foundation.
Dr. Michael Braitsch, PT, DPT, founded Tribe Wellness to provide people living with Parkinson’s evidence-based exercise recommendations, group exercise opportunities and a community that people love to call home.
In addition to the 16 group exercise classes they offer each week, last year Braitsch began a hiking group to provide members with a targeted approach to improve their walking. The two keys that have unlocked the success of this program: giving members a lofty goal to train for and doing at least some of the training as a group.
Last October they hiked the highest peak in Texas, the Guadalupe Peak (elevation 8,750 ft.) and raised over $10,000 for the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS).
“The Every Victory Counts manual is the single best resource that any of us have encountered for people living with Parkinson's. We admire the work of the Davis Phinney Foundation and wanted to join them to continue to encourage people to live out Davis' guiding principles of living an active lifestyle, inspiring action and fostering community.”
- Dr. Michael Braitsch
Braitsch provides a weekly training plan to keep members of the hiking group on track and accountable to their stated goals. During their weekly group walks and group exercise classes, they connect, share tips and resources and support and encourage each other to live well. Yes, there are many people who have fewer freezing episodes, walk more smoothly, improve their balance and achieve goals they had all but given up on; however, they all agree that the true magic comes from being part of this community. Proving yet again that the research on social connectedness is some of the most powerful and encouraging we have on living well with Parkinson’s.
Braitsch has spent many thousands of hours working closely with people living with Parkinson’s and their care partners, and he is convinced that keeping people moving for as long as possible, connecting them with others who are traveling a similar path and giving them a variety of opportunities to care for their whole selves is the holy grail of extending quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s.
Braitsch also emphasized that knowing someone like Larry Christensen who works tirelessly to support and encourage people and raise money for Parkinson’s is an important part of the puzzle. “We all need heroes like these in our lives to remind us to do and be better. And that despite what we may think, we almost always have more in the tank.”
But, what do you do if you haven’t found your tribe in your own community?
We wish Tribe Wellness was a staple in every community; however, until that day comes, there are small steps you can take each day to build a tribe of your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Attend a Parkinson’s support group in your area
- Invite a few people from your support group to start a weekly walking club
- Invite a neighbor to walk with you once or twice a week
- Visit your local community or senior center and join a group class
- Join a Rock Steady Boxing or Dance for Parkinson’s or Pedaling for Parkinson’s class and ask what other classes people are doing
- Contact your local Parkinson’s organizations and ask for local resources or how you can get involved
- Offer to lead a walking group yourself
- Host a small fundraiser of your own
Being connected to your community can be the difference between feeling like your best years are behind you and living more fully and happily than you ever have before.
How to Reduce Social Isolation While Living with Parkinson’s
Social Capital and Value of Relationships in Parkinson’s
Can Relationships Boost Longevity and Well-Being?
American Hiking Society - Find hikes near you
Nordic Walking Helps Parkinson’s Patients
Beginner’s Guide to Nordic Pole Walking
Want to get involved? Join Team DPF!
Braitsch created a fundraising team for his group, right here on our Community Fundraising event website. You can create your own team or individual fundraising page and create or participate in an activity in your own backyard that raises awareness about living well with Parkinson's. Get started today and raise important funds to grow this message and expand Davis Phinney Foundation’s message that living well today is your right.