All posts by Joanne Bernard

Parkinson’s Exercise Programs

Exercise – Keeping it Virtual.  With COVID-19 restrictions easing or being lifted, your health and safety continues to be our top priority. We ask that you hold off in attending in-person exercise programs for now.  We have compiled this list of virtual exercise programs to help you keep active:

Parkinson’s and Exercise Guide
Provided by Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario
More …

Parkinson Association of Alberta (exercise and education)
Motivational Mondays More …
Webinar Wednesdays More …
Freestyle Friday More …

Cummings Virtual Learning
Boxing Interval Fitness & Vocal Training for Parkinson’s
More …

American Parkinson Disease Association
A variety of free online exercise programs including Tai Chi and Dance
More …

VON SMART Exercise Class Videos
Low, Moderate and High Exercise videos available
More …

Rock Steady Boxing
By Empire Muscle
Free online classes – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
More …

Canada’s National Ballet School
Sharing Dance
More …

Fitness Fridays
Created by Joellyn Fox through Parkinson’s Foundation
More …

Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials Video
Developed by the Davis Phinney Foundation
More …

Parkinson Society British Columbia
Exercise Programs
More …

Message from Shelley Rivard, CEO

COVID-19, coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation, wash your hands … words and phrases that are ringing daily in our ears.  Just like a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, these words have changed our world as we knew it.

Shelley Rivard, CEO

The last number of weeks have been extremely difficult as we grapple with the short and long term effects that COVID-19 is having and will have on each and everyone of you, and, on us as an organization. These unprecedented times have led us to make some difficult decisions including cancelling our April Living Well conferences, two of our major fundraisers, all in person meetings in order to follow health regulations, and most importantly, to keep all of you safe.  These times have challenged us on how we can remain supportive through a virtual world.

The most difficult decision came 2 weeks ago, to reduce our staff team through temporary layoffs. After an in-depth look at our budget and reducing expenses to bare bones, it was apparent that this next step was inevitable.

Over the last month, we have encouraged all of you to be “Unstoppable”.  At this time, we remind ourselves about the importance of us, remaining “Unstoppable” for all of you.  We have shared video stories during the month of April that demonstrated the grit and determination this community has. They have been a beacon of hope in a world that is changing at every turn.  Now, it’s our turn, to show you perseverance as we work to provide the programs and services you need to get you through this time of isolation and the feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness that it brings.

In the days ahead, you will start to see the plans that we’ve put in place to support you, start to take shape. Things may not look like they once used to, but rest assured, we are here for you and will support you anyway we can. All of our decisions, all of our plans, all of the work we do day in and day out is shaped by you and for you. We may not be perfect, it may take some adjustment from all of us – but we know that we have the BEST community of people around us and that together, we’ll make it through this.

We want to hear from you. Please take a moment to click here and complete this short survey to let us know how we can best support you in the days ahead.

We are grateful for the gifts of time, talent and treasure that each of you so generously offer. Please, don’t stop. Don’t stop ensuring that your family member, living with Parkinson’s has access to share and connect with others experiencing similar situations through support groups. Don’t stop ensuring that carepartners can call us to turn for help. Don’t stop ensuring that someone, newly diagnosed and lost in the initial shock of a diagnosis, has a place to turn for hope. You make this work possible. You ensure support. Don’t stop volunteering your time, don’t stop sharing your skills and don’t stop giving. You make a Home for people living with Parkinson’s in our community.  To find out more about how we’re here for you and to donate click here.

We don’t know how long we will be in the current situation, but the one thing I can promise is that we are in this together and Hope is Close to Home!

Rock Steady Boxing Online!

Rock Steady Boxing at Empire Muscle offers fighters of all PD levels spirited group training by certified coaches at a spacious, clean, organized and handicap-accessible facility. 

Empire Muscle is currently offering Free online classes on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Click here for more information 


Do You Need to Talk to Someone? 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 are newly diagnosed Parkinson’s, need help sharing news with family and friends, are having 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 University College School of Social Work an affiliate of Western University, invites you to call for a free, confidential and non-judgemental counselling session offered by students under supervised social work practice.  Counselling will focus on supportive listening, identifying key concerns, processing issues and mutual goal-setting for positive change through a solution-focused model. 

Counselling is available during the month of May with our King’s student, Christine Loop. Some of you may have met her during recent Zoom support groups, or talked with her  while she has been making COVID-19 check-in calls.  Christine is in her 3rd year at King’s in the School of Social Work program.

You can schedule an appointment by calling 1-888-851-7376 or email [email protected].  Counselling is available by phone or virtual online meeting. 

HOPE – Living with Parkinson’s

The HOPE – Living with Parkinson’s is part of video series to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s. Click on the video below to listen to Carolyn, David and Kelly talk about hope and living with Parkinson’s.

Please Note: Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) remains committed to serving the Parkinson’s community as we monitor the situation. While many of us will be practicing social distancing and/or self-isolation, we encourage people to continue to connect with one another by phone or email. It is important in preventing loneliness as in-person social interactions become more limited. PSSO will be looking at ways to increase contact with our community by phone, particularly for those who are most vulnerable, during this time. Please call 1-888-851-7376 to reach our office. Calls will be directed to voicemail with staff checking messages during work hours.



Due to the State of Emergency declared in Ontario, we have made the decision to close our office and have our staff work remotely from home.

NOTE: Calls will be directed to voicemail with staff checking messages during work hours.

PSSO remains committed to serving the Parkinson’s community as we monitor the situation. While many of us will be practicing social distancing and/or self-isolation, we encourage people to continue to connect with one another by phone or email. It is important in preventing loneliness as in-person social interactions become more limited. PSSO will be looking at ways to increase contact with our community by phone, particularly for those who are most vulnerable, during this time.

Effective immediately through April 30, 2020, Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario has suspended Support Groups and all in-person meetings including Louder, Clearer; Parkinson Music Choir and committee meetings. We strongly suggest that clients refrain from all group activities including exercise groups they may be attending.

The Living Well Conferences, Hair Affair and Signatures (London & Waterloo Region) have been cancelled for 2020.  For those who have already registered/booked, our office will be in contact with you with regards to a refund.

Our Annual General Meeting scheduled for April 15th will be re-scheduled for a later date.

We will continue to monitor the situation and inform you of programming decisions for May onward as more information becomes available.


To protect yourself from COVID-19, the Government of Canada recommends the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm; dispose of any used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water)


For more details and updates, visit the Government of Canada at or the World Health Organization at


Parkinson’s Disease-Specific Precautions

  • Check your medications. Take inventory and reorder any that are running low.
  • Talk to your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine. Seniors are most at risk to develop COVID-19 symptoms that can lead to the development of pneumonia.
  • Stock your Aware in Care kit in the event you need to educate a health care professional about your PD needs. Order one here.
  • Have your Medical Alert Card handy. Keep it with you at all times. Print one here

The Parkinson’s Update – Issue 71 has just been mailed

The Parkinson’s Update – Issue 71

Read about Communication and Parkinson’s, Botox Injections, Accommodation in the Workplace, The Goal of Treatment and more!

If you wish to begin receiving The Parkinson’s Update, click here

Register for a Living Well Conference closest to you:
April 7 – Brantford
April 14 – Zurich
April 21 – Kincardine
April 22 – Chatham

Join our Parkinson’s Family – Become a member


Ways to Get Involved in 2020!

Start the new year off fresh and choose to join our new membership program!

Just $5 a month can create a lasting impact in our Parkinson’s family!
Sign up today!
Contact Jessica Halls at 1-888-851-7376 or email at [email protected] to learn more.


Join us at a Living Well Conference: Your Physician, You Pharmacist and You closest to you!

Brantford – April 7
Zurich – April 14
Kincardine – April 21
Chatham – April 22


Register for an upcoming webinar!

January 22 – Advanced Therapies for Parkinson’s with Dr. Devin Hall
February 19 – Medications and Parkinson’s with Greta Mah, Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist
March 18 – Sleep and Fatigue in Parkinson’s with Dr. John Paulseth
April 22 – Feeling Faint – Sudden Drop in Blood Pressure in Parkinson’s with Dr. Joyce Lee and Greta Mah 
May 22 – Psychological Changes in Parkinson’s with Susan MacDonald


Attend a workshop nearest you!

May 12 – Financially Preparing for Parkinson’s in Owen Sound
May 20 – Mindfulness & Movement in Windsor
May 27 – Neurological Perspectives on Healthcare in Sarnia
May 27 – Neurological Information Night in Cambridge

Stay tuned – Details will be available soon.


Participate in one of our upcoming events!

Hair Affair

Sunday, April 26
$45 for a wash, cut and style!
Join us at one of our participating salons to freshen your do while you support the Parkinson’s community!

Parkinson Golf Classic presented by Rembrandt Homes

Westhaven Golf & Country Club
Wednesday, May 27
$200 per golfer
Our golf tournament sells-out!
Register now to confirm your place!


June 8 @ Budweiser Gardens in London
June 16 @ Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex
Come tantalize your tastebuds with the best dishes the city has to offer!
Tickets will be available for purchase shortly! Stay tuned!

Walk-It for Parkinson’s

Gather your friends and family. Come Walk-It for those you love!
Saturday, September 12, Sunday, September 13 and Sunday, September 20
More details to come soon!


Give the gift of time this year and volunteer with us!

Volunteers make so many of our events possible!
If you love to join with others, lend a helping hand or volunteer your skills, we’d love to chat with you!
Give us a call 1-888-851-7376 or email Vickie Thomas at [email protected]


Did you know, most companies give back to charities that mean the most to their employees?

Consider looking into an employee giving program or giving back for volunteering program to see if your place of work can support those you love and care about! Contact Jessica Halls, Manager, Fund Development to find out how you can look for these opportunities! [email protected] or 1-888-851-7376


Love to throw parties or get your friends together? Consider hosting what we call a ‘third party’ event.

The concept is simple. Come up with an event idea, organize the logistics, invite your friends, family and community!
Fill us in on the details and we’ll help spread the word!
All the funds you raise at the event support people living with Parkinson’s in Southwestern Ontario!
Here’s a few ideas of what’s been done in the past; host a tea party with your girlfriends, plan a birthday party for a loved one and ask for donations in lieu of gifts, talk with a local business and see if they’ll partner with you on a night that brings awareness to Parkinson’s and raises funds, have a yoga night… the ideas are endless!
Contact Jessica Halls at 1-888-851-7376 or email at [email protected] to learn more.


The new year often encourages us to reflect on all that we have and all that we still want to do.

Have you been reflecting on what kind of impact you want to have?
Maybe you’ve been considering what legacy you want to leave.
Contact us today to find out ways that you can give back that will have a long term, lasting impact.
Call Shelley Rivard, CEO at 1-888-851-7376 or email her at [email protected]
We’d love to explore these ideas with you and support your goals for the community!


Help us do more!

Are you a company looking to partner with an organization in the community?
Or maybe you are looking to give a gift that will have a ripple effect.
We would love to partner with you! Contact Jessica Halls at 1-888-851-7376 or email at [email protected] to learn more.