Extra Dosage | Jillian’s Gym
This is a special bonus episode of the When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast called “Extra Dosage.” Full episodes of Season 2 are available every other Wednesday.
In this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s I visit Jillian Carson, 59, at her new Parkinson’s Wellness Centre in Victoria, British Columbia.
It’s a dream that I thought would never happen.” Carson, a retired physiotherapist and nine-years into her Parkinson’s diagnosis, knows how important the centre is for people, “Everyone deserves to have the care they need. I see it now. I watch them come from their classes. They are smiling, sweating and there is lots of laughter. It’s beautiful.”
The door into the centre reads “Jillian’s Gym” and there is no doubt she is the queen bee of this hive of activity. The centre is buzzing with people: coaches, volunteers and dozens of people with Parkinson’s. They take turns with heavy bags, speed bags, and other boxing equipment, stepping through giant tires, riding exercise bikes, stretching, jumping and running. While there, Jillian challenged me to a “yellie” competition. We both got down on all fours and counted by two as loud as we could. Our voices propelled a small toy forward and we followed behind racing against each other to see who’s “yellie” would cross the finish line first. That exercise worked on our cognitive skills, vocal expression and physical ability. And we laughed and laughed and laughed.
Jillian preaches the importance of having a lot of support for your PD journey, “With Parkinson’s you need a life raft. Not one person, but at least eight. Because, if one of them is not available you need someone else. Your life raft needs to be full.”
The centre, which opened in September 2019, is a life raft for an entire community of people with Parkinson’s and it’s staying afloat thanks in a large part to a $500,000 anonymous donation. Visitors to the centre do not have to pay to take part. Donations, however, are accepted.
Jillian is hopeful Parkinson’s Wellness Project becomes as much of a place of support as it is for exercise. She remembers the dark days in her own life after her diagnosis just three weeks before her 50th birthday. “It was hard. I was in denial for those years. What really changed it was really meeting everyone else at World Parkinson Congress. You look around see all these people living well with Parkinson’s, they’re laughing and I thought, I can do that too.”
Despite the progression of Parkinson’s, which has affected her ability to cook and is causing more falls, she is full of energy and positivity. The secret is she benefits from seeing so many people benefit from the centre as they do using it.
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Special thanks to…
Jillian Carson, founder of Parkinson’s Wellness Project https://parkinsonwellnessproject.org/
Visit Parkinson Wellness Project at 202-2680 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC V8T 5E1 (250) 360-6800 To support the centre, donate here https://support.parkinsonwellnessproject.org/
For more info on our presenting partner Parkinson Canada head to http://www.parkinson.ca/
The toll free hotline 1-800-565-3000
Or follow them on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada
Thanks also to our content and promotional partners
Parkinson’s IQ + You– A free, series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation
Spotlight YOPD – The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease.
Dila Velazquez – Story Producer
Rob Johnston – Senior Audio Producer