Marking World Parkinson’s Day

Every year on April 11 we celebrate World Parkinson’s Day. The day serves as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Parkinson’s community, providing a platform for individuals to raise their voices and share their lived experiences with the condition. 

It’s a time to listen, learn and empathise with those affected by Parkinson’s, and recognise the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Since last June we have been running a walking football project in partnership with The Whittington NHS Trust specifically for people living with Parkinson’s Disease. Exercise is proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s and we believe the best exercise is the one you enjoy the most. 

Our Parkinson’s Walking Football sessions are part of our Premier League and PFA-funded Health Programme, which offers a range of interventions and regular activities designed to help tackle local health priorities. The Parkinson’s session was made possible by initial seed funding from The Walking Football Association and ongoing funding and participant referrals from The Whittington NHS Health Trust.

Overseen by Health & Wellbeing Coordinator Rhys Ratcliffe, these sessions are held every Wednesday from 12pm to 1.30pm at The Arsenal Hub. The primary goal is to establish a secure and supportive environment where participants can enjoy physical activity comfortably. This initiative is inclusive, welcoming individuals of all ages and abilities affected by Parkinson’s, offering them the opportunity to exercise safely while fostering connections with others.

The sessions start with a 30-minute social support group, where participants can have tea and coffee and receive occasional talks from guest speakers. This is followed by one hour of walking football led by experienced Arsenal in the Community coaches. The walking football is adapted to be slightly slower and more beneficial for people with Parkinson’s Disease, including plenty of coordination drills designed to improve balance and walking patterns.

In December Emile Smith Rowe joined the group during their visit to the Sobha Realty Training Centre. During his time there Emile watched a session first-hand, and the programme received recognition on the following Sunday’s Match Of The Day, which featured a segment with Emile, Rhys, participants and organisers discussing the positive impact it has had on the lives of those involved. 

This exposure underscores the significance of initiatives like the Walking Football programme in enhancing the well-being of individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Watch the video featuring Emile and our Parkinson’s Walking Football participants below.

For more information or to self-refer, contact Rhys at [email protected] or on 07548 107576

Copyright 2024 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

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