Sunday, April 25, 2010


Laughing with an enthusiastic participant of the symposium

Held in April to recognize Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Houston Area Parkinson’s Association offers an educational symposium which includes presentations on the most up to date Parkinson’s related topics at no charge to those who attend. The 2010 symposium took place Saturday, April 24th. This educational program, "Approaching Parkinson's Creatively: New Treatment for a New Decade" gave participants the opportunity to put into practice the innovative, self-determined approaches to managing Parkinson’s.

The symposium held at the United Way of Greater Houston was generously sponsored by Teva Neuroscience and Medtronic. HAPS Board and staff welcomed a "sold out" crowd of 150 participants who browsed the community resource exhibits and filled the auditorium and breakout sessions to experience a series of interactive and creative workshops.

I kicked off the event with an interactive keynote for the whole group. It served as an introduction to the way laughter yoga is yet another creative approach to treating Parkinson’s disease. Because this progressive disorder of the brain causes a variety of movement problems including decreased facial expression, smiling and laughing was a big effort for many of the participants at the symposium. Nevertheless, they DID smile and laugh whole-heartedly. It was a absolute delightful to see such joy errupting from the people gathered for the event. Kathleen Christ, of the HAPS staff, sent me this word of thanks:

“I wanted to thank you on behalf of everyone at Houston Area Parkinson’s Association (HAPS), our clients, board members and especially thos who attended the symposium on Saturday, for your wonderful presentation! We received such wonderful comments and feedback on your session. I saw so many people—people I have known for 8+ years—smiling and laughing like I have never seen before. One person came up to me at the end of the day and said: ‘Kathleen, I had forgotten that I knew how to laugh. Thank you for reminding me!’ Thank you for reminding us all how important laughter is. HAPS sings your praises!”

—Kathleen Crist, LMSW

Director of Social Services and Program Development

Here I am with some of the other exhibitors

An action shot of a group doing Wii video games for therapy

Laughing with Alfonso Hernandez, director of therapeutic programs and community outreach for HAPS

A group doing art therapy

An action shot of a group doing tango dancing as a therapy