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In May 2016, Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) partnered with the SongShine Foundation™ to offer instructor training. Individuals with backgrounds in speech, music, health and voice all gathered in Vancouver to learn about music and drama-based vocal therapy methods. These instructors are now bringing their knowledge of SongShine to communities across British Columbia to benefit people whose speech has been compromised by Parkinson’s disease, other neurological disorders or aging.

Songshine

Megan Keene, Sharon Tomczyk and Hugh Yardley are three friends who completed the SongShine certification together and are now introducing the program to Parksville. They have been kind enough to share their inspirations and motivations for participating in this training.

Do you have a personal connection to Parkinson’s disease?

Megan: My Grandfather passed away 9 months ago from Parkinson’s disease, and I now wish there had been a SongShine program many years ago. I know it would have improved his life in so many ways. To now be able to help others in their journeys with Parkinson’s is such a gift, and an honour to my Grandpa.

Sharon: All too frequently I hear of another friend or community member who is facing the lifechanging challenge of Parkinson’s, stroke, M.S. or similar disease. I have also been witness to the social implications of these diseases, as a friend, and through my work as a paramedic and home support worker. Those with increasing speech and mobility challenges often isolate themselves at home, limiting their connection to a supportive community, as well as the possibility of participating in activities that could help some of their physical symptoms. This is where SongShine has so much to share.

Hugh: I do not have a personal connection to Parkinson’s disease, but I have personal experience losing music in my life and how that impacted me as a person. I look forward to bringing music back into people’s lives.

What interested you in the SongShine program?

Megan: I’ve been involved with music in some way or another for most of my life; but as soon as I discovered a community choir in Errington after I graduated from high school, I was hooked. The people I met are now some of my best friends. The sense of community and support brought me confidence and encouraged me to join a band. Now I play instruments, and co-lead a choir of my own in Coombs every week. It is truly the only thing that brings me great joy, and seeing the joy and benefits it brings to others is amazing.

I’m really looking forward to using my SongShine training to improve the quality of life for the members of our group and future groups.

Hugh: In my own business as a music teacher I reinforce the benefits of music; it is great for brain development, motor skills, coordination, etc. The SongShine program enables people who have drifted away from their voices a chance to regain [them] through the power of music..

What was the most inspiring aspect of the SongShine training in Vancouver?

Sharon: What inspires me about SongShine, is that it offers a holistic approach to therapeutic speech support. We really got to experience that in the training. We were lead through a ton of activities that made me laugh, cry, sing, move, connect, reflect and think.

Hugh: The most inspiring aspect of the SongShine training in Vancouver was the genuineness of Ruthanna (SongShine Founder and President) and Peter (Foundation Director). Their enthusiasm for the program is infectious in inspiring people to take their knowledge and use it for healing themselves and/or others.

What can SongShine participants expect from your ten week program?

Hugh: SongShine participants can expect a lot of great exercises incorporated into the program. There are breathing exercises, vocal exercises, body movement, singing songs that reinforce the aforementioned exercises and so on. It is designed to give participants a fun means of healing and reconnection with their body/brain/voice. SongShine also fosters an encouraging community and new friendships.

Sharon: The programming builds on itself every session, so throughout the 10 weeks we will cover quite a number of activities – no risk of the participants getting bored! Hugh, Megan and I will be available throughout the sessions to support, answer questions and share a smile or a hug. It’s important that everyone feels safe and welcome in our programs.

Additional resources:

• SongShine programs in BC: /resources-services/exerciseactive-living/songshine/

• SongShine for PD Foundation: http://www.songshineforparkinsons.org/

• SongShine Vancouver Island: http://www.songshinevi.org/