Chris Kustanbauter developed Young Onset Parkinson’s disease at age 48. Now 57, he attributes his wellness to his healthcare providers and to the instructors of the Momentum Class offered at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). “When the program first launched in 2019, I was excited because it gave me the opportunity to take classes focused on my needs, as well as work alongside others going through the same daily struggles.”
Despite the high rate of Parkinson’s cases in York County, Susannah Gillespie, group fitness instructor at the JCC, noticed a shortage of comprehensive services available in our area. The goal was to offer a free, comprehensive, physical, psychological, and social improvement program for people diagnosed with a range of neurocognitive conditions: Parkinson’s, early-onset dementia, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and others.
Momentum began as an outgrowth of the Parkinson’s Movement Class in the fall of 2019 thanks to grants from the Memorial Health Fund (MHF), a supporting organization of York County Community Foundation, and the Edgar I. Garrett Fund of YCCF. With 45 participants, the program was an instant success, more than doubling its original goal. When the JCC was forced to close due to the pandemic, it pivoted to offer support via phone, social media, and Zoom sessions. In-person classes have now resumed, and for those who did not continue with sessions remotely, the drop in movement and disease regression is apparent.
Thankfully, participants are slowly building back their balance, mobility, and mental well-being with help from the dedicated staff. MHF is proud to support programs like Momentum. Because a community where people cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, no matter how big or small, is a place in which we can all thrive.