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Parkinson’s dance classes helping transform ‘symptoms into superpowers’ thanks to National Lottery funding

South London Younger Parkinson's Network (SLYPN) has received almost £10,000 of National Lottery funding to run hip hop dance classes for people with Parkinson’s, encouraging them to move their bodies and stay fit in a fun and safe environment.

The funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, for the ‘Popping for Parkinson’s’ workshops will help young people living with Parkinson’s improve their movement capacities, gain confidence, and feel less isolated.

Sarah Webb, Founder of South London Younger Parkinson’s Network (SLYPN) developed Parkinson’s 11 years ago when she was just 39. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition which causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. The three main symptoms are tremors, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness.

There are around 145,000 people in the UK with the condition, however at the time of her diagnosis, Sarah felt very alone and misunderstood due to the lack of groups that supported people of her age, having developed the condition at a young age. Sarah then started SLYPN to bring younger people with Parkinson’s together and the group has been running for the last ten years.

“You panic when you hear you have Parkinson’s because you don’t know much about it and you think you’re going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life,” explained Sarah.

“When I was first diagnosed there was no one around for me to meet, all the groups are for older people with Parkinson’s who didn’t really want to talk to me, or I talk to them.”

Sarah has always loved dancing and prior to her diagnosis would always be the first person on the dance floor at a party. Sarah wanted to incorporate dance into SLYPN, to ensure all members could move their bodies in an environment where they felt safe and accepted.

Sarah said: “I wanted to find a way that I could make dancing work for me and that’s why we began the Popping for Parkinson’s classes at SLYPN. When people walk into the room for the session they can’t walk very well, they’re tired but when the music starts our bodies come alive and start moving again. The beat of the music distracts the brain, and we can move our muscles, it’s fascinating what you can do with your body when the music is on.

“It’s really nice to do something together every week. This is a space where we can all be ourselves and it doesn’t matter if you trip or fall as everyone understands. When the music is blaring, we are in our comfort zone. Thanks to National Lottery players for allowing us to continue these really beneficial dance classes.”

Popping for Parkinson’s takes place every week at the Wimbledon Club and has members as young as 25 taking part.

Simone Sistarelli, dance teacher and Founder of Popping for Parkinson’s said: “I believe that everyone can dance, and everyone should dance, it teaches you essential life skills. If you have a condition like Parkinson’s which can make you feel lost, scared, and hopeless, dance can offer a solution to all of this.

“For me dancing is a superpower. Through these classes we are helping people turn their symptoms into a superpower.”

South London Younger Parkinson's Network is one of 270 charities and community groups across London benefiting from almost £13 million of National Lottery funding in the last quarter”.

Helen Bushell, Senior Head of Regional Funding for London, South East and East of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “It is great to see the amazing impact that money raised by National Lottery players is having in communities across London and the much-needed boost it has given to community spirit. Groups like South London Younger Parkinson’s Network are helping bring back a sense of fun and excitement after what has been an extremely difficult year.”

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Thanks to National Lottery players, last year we awarded over half a billion pounds (£588.2 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK. Over eight in ten (83%) of our grants are for under £10,000 – going to grassroots groups and charities across the UK that are bringing to life amazing ideas that matter to their communities.

National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK.

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Notes to Editors

* These figures are for funding awarded from 26 June – 10 September 2021.

About us

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK**. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £43 billion has been raised for good causes which has supported over 635,000 projects***, benefiting millions of people - that’s 255 projects per postcode area***.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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