All posts by Joanne Bernard

Making Sure You’re Okay

Recognizing that the wellness of our clients and CarePartners is paramount during this time, Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) is pleased to announce that the ECSF (Emergency Community Support Fund) funding has been received from the United Way of Windsor-Essex County and the United Way Waterloo Region Communities for a 3-month long Wellness Consultant.  PSSO has a team of part-time individuals reaching out to members of our Parkinson’s community to check on their wellbeing, listen and ensure they are being connected to programs or services they might require through PSSO staff. 

This is a crucial service for those who are being challenged by the most recent provincial lockdown, or are feeling isolated, or disconnected.  Your physical and mental health is important to maintain, and we want to make sure you’re receiving the services you need.  If you hear from either Devin, Cindy or Pat, say “hello”… they’re calling to hear YOU!

Thanks to our United Way Partners for supporting this initiative!


A Message from CEO, Shelley Rivard

We did it! We made it to a new year. But unlike the fairytales, when the clock struck midnight – things didn’t go back to normal.

We’re still in this thing and as the tensions of the world seem to rise – we can find rest, peace and comfort in community.

We’re still here for you. As things change, we are working hard to shift. We want to welcome you to this new year. Even though things haven’t changed in the world – we can still start to take a fresh look at ourselves and our loved ones.

We can Begin 2021 well. As we head into the new year, we will be focusing on ways we can begin well in body, mind and soul. Resources will be made available, so be sure to visit our website for more information.

We are excited to be bringing back programing like Louder, Clearer, the Parkinson’s Music Choir. We are continuing to receive referrals from the Getting Connected Program. We are starting a new program called the Newly Diagnosed Series to support those who are just starting their Parkinson’s journey. Support groups will continue virtually and we are also looking forward to our April Living Well Conferences, to be hosted virtually.

We look forward with hope with the vaccine on the horizon that we will be able to come back together this year, but until then – keep connected with us. If you need support or new a way to get engaged, reach out and let us know. We’re here to help. If you’re struggling and need a little extra support, we will continue to have counselling available.

Let’s keep fighting strong together!

Move for Health January Free Workshops

Join a free YMCA Move for Health Workshop.  All workshops will be hosted through ZOOM. 

Wednesday January 20, 2021 | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Speaker: Dave Patterson R.Kin
Do you have arthritis? Pain, stiffness and questions? Join us for this workshop to discuss
osteoarthritis and the role of exercise in arthritis management. Includes tips on what to do, and
how to get started with exercise at home.

Monday January 25, 2021 | 9:00AM – 10:30AM
Speaker: Katelyn Corke R. Kin
Special Guest: Dr. Laura Middleton
Curious as to how working your body can affect your brain health? Join us to understand
the latest research on how physical activity and exercise can impact your brain health. After we
learn, we then put the information into motion and get active to boost our brain.

Register Today!

Coffee Klatch

Coffee Klatch is back by popular demand on new day and time.


Have you ever wanted to meet other people from other areas around Southwestern Ontario? Now is your chance! Grab your favourite drink – hot or cold, and meet us online to connect with each other!

 Join us this Fall for “Coffee Klatch” fun! This is a German phrase to mean “a casual social gathering for coffee and conversation!”

Zoom details will be forwarded on to support group members through facilitators.  If you are not part of a current support group or didn’t receive Zoom link to join Coffee Klatch please contact [email protected].

Do you need someone to talk to?

Are you feeling isolated because of COVID-19 restrictions?  It’s always important to stay connected, and even more so when things are weighing on your mind.  If you’re dealing with a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, need help sharing news with family and friends, if you have relationship issues, are dealing with grief, loss, depression or anxiety, we are here for you. 

Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario, through a partnership with King’s Western University Social Work program, invites you to call for FREE, short-term, confidential and non-judgemental counselling offered by social work student.   Counselling will focus on supportive listening, identifying key concerns, processing issues, and mutual goal-setting for positive change through a solution-focused model. 

Melissa Chamberlain is a 4th year student in the King’s Western University Social Work program.  Schedule your appointment with Melissa by calling 1-888-851-7376 or email [email protected].  Counselling is available at Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario office (London), by phone or virtual online meeting through Zoom. 

Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) Thank You’s!

2020 has been a tough year for all of us, and Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) is no exception.  We rely on charitable donations to ensure our programs and services are available to all of our clients across Southwestern Ontario. This year, we are grateful to the Community Foundations and United Way’s listed below for their support of PSSO through the Emergency Community Support Fund. This fund is meant to help charities in our communities through grants for staffing, programming and technology initiatives to help maintain and deliver services. We appreciate their support in helping PSSO as we continue to support those living with Parkinson’s in Southwestern Ontario.

Our thanks to:

Chatham Kent Community Foundation
Dufferin (Orangeville) Community Foundation
Grand Bend Community Foundation
London Community Foundation
Sarnia United Way
Stratford Perth Community Foundation
Grey Bruce United Way

A Message from CEO Shelley Rivard

Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) recently learned that one of our third-party providers, Blackbaud, has experienced a ransomware attack that impacted many of its clients around the world, including PSSO, which may have involved your personal information.  We are committed to the protection and privacy of your data, so we are informing you of what transpired so you can take extra precautions.

PSSO manages personal information related to our stakeholders for the purpose of volunteer and donor relations, communications and historical record keeping through Blackbaud, software provider for non-profit organizations.

We were notified on Thursday July 16th, that Blackbaud had discovered and stopped a ransomware attack in May.  While PSSO was not specifically targeted, data from PSSO that may have been affected includes contact information – names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, gender as well as historical giving.  Blackbaud has assured us that data such as credit card numbers, usernames and passwords were not compromised as they were encrypted.  The cyber criminal’s ransom was paid and relevant data was destroyed, according to the update provided by Blackbaud.

Blackbaud has informed us that there is no reason to believe that data related to our organization will be misused, but we recommend that you exercise extra caution.

Blackbaud has carried out an internal investigation with the assistance of outside cybersecurity experts and law enforcement and is confident that the data was removed and has not been further used or disclosed.  As extra precautionary measures, their investigators are continuing to monitor usage of data taken.

In addition to notify you of this incident, we have taken the following steps:

  • We have informed the Information and Privacy Commissioner and will follow their advice on additional safety protocols
  • We are working with Blackbaud to understand why this happened, what actions they are taking to increase their security, and to enable multi-factor authentication to protect our data in the future

We appreciate the trust and support of the PSSO community and regret the concerns that this may have caused.  We are here to address your questions or concerns by calling 1-888-851-7376 or email [email protected].

COVID-19 Pandemic

Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) hopes that this communication finds you safe and healthy. The pandemic has meant many changes to us all in such a very short period of time.

Since closing our office in March, it is hard to believe that the summer is here and passing quickly. We wanted to provide you with an update as to how we are moving forward with the continuing pandemic.

After establishing and implementing enhanced healthy and safety protocols for a responsible and safe re-opening, PSSO is now open and staff are back working in the office.  That being said, for your safety and ours, we do continue to maintain a closed building. Protocols are in place for face-to-face meetings within our office, should they be required. Please let us know If you would like to visit the office, and we will provide requirements established for a safe environment for everyone.

Most important to Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario is the health and safety of our clients, volunteers and staff team. As we get back to business as usual in our “new normal” environment, we are continuing to suspend all in-person group meetings, support groups, exercise groups etc for the foreseeable future; or until it is safe to do so. This is out of an abundance of caution and the need to keep everyone safe. Thank you for your understanding.

If you would like to keep informed of all virtual meetings happening throughout Southwestern Ontario, please request to be signed up for our weekly e-news by emailing [email protected].

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and we will do our best to assist.

We’re here for YOU!


Shelley Rivard, CEO

What does it take to maintain STRONG CLEAR speech in Parkinson’s?

The research is clear that EXERCISE is one of the most powerful treatments for Parkinson’s. This applies to VOICE and SPEECH exercise as well!

Daily, Parkinson’s specific speech and voice exercises can help slow the decline of speech, voice and swallowing issues. So what do the experts recommend? A minimum of 20 minutes daily of speech exercises including:

  • Breathing Exercises – practice deep belly breaths to
    safely power louder speech
  • Vocal Amplitude Exercises (long, loud sustained vowels
  • Pitch Exercises (gliding up and down on vowels,
    sirening, singing, humming)
  • Articulation Exercises – exaggerating mouth
    movements when speaking i.e. on tongue twisters or
    when reading aloud
  • Facial Exercises to fight against facial masking
  • Cognitive/Linguistic Exercises to help maintain word
    retrieval skills and mental acuity

REMEMBER … the key is to make every exercise you do BIG and EXAGGERATED. Parkinson’s is the disease of LOW AMPLITUDE. It makes you FEEL like you’re making big steps, big arm swing, big voice … but it’s tricking you!

Take home message: When doing your speech and voice exercises … think BIG!

Click here for: SPEAK OUT!® Parkinson’s Speech & Voice Exercises – MAKE SOME NOISE!

Click here for more recordings

Sarah Awde, M.Cl.Sc., Reg.CASLPO
Speech-Language Pathologist