By Cathe Schwartz, InMotion CEO

InMotion, a nonprofit organization located in Cleveland, Ohio, is at the forefront of community-based programming for people with Parkinson’s disease. Since opening our doors in 2015, InMotion has grown to serve over 1,100 clients in Northeast Ohio. Our integrated wellness program is designed to complement the care our clients receive from their healthcare team in ways that address mind, body and spirit. We offer evidence-based exercise, arts, support and education programs at no cost to clients and their care partners, helping them take control of their symptoms and learn to live positively and constructively with their disease. Our findings show that in aggregate, the clinical course of regular participants in our programs remains stable or improves.

Growing reach in a pandemic

InMotion has been closed since March due to the pandemic. However, that hasn’t stopped our commitment to bringing people with Parkinson’s disease and their families the resources they need to feel better every day. With our new remote program delivery through Zoom to our clients, and videos on our website available to anyone, our reach has begun to grow beyond northeast Ohio. Funding from the Adira Foundation helped make this possible by underwriting the cost of Zoom subscriptions and iPads that have enabled us to livestream our classes.

Screenshot of Zoom exercise class
Participants follow along in an exercise class with InMotion via Zoom.

We had been toying with the idea of livestreaming our group classes to reach people with Parkinson’s disease outside northeast Ohio, but it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit that we began implementing a remote program in earnest. We made the decision to close March 13, a few days before our governor issued a statewide shutdown order, but we knew that because exercise is so important to managing Parkinson’s symptoms, we couldn’t close without giving our clients something to help them stay fit and healthy. Over the weekend, our coaches created a few short exercise videos, which we posted on our website for our clients.

Now we have a full schedule of classes available remotely via Zoom and as of Aug. 18, have had 2,860 client visits to our remote classes. And, people throughout the country are able to access our videos at beinmotion.org. Best of all, these resources are free.

Biggest lesson learned

The biggest lesson we learned was that many of our clients needed a little extra help when it came to using Zoom to access classes. While some took to it easily, others struggled. We offered a “How to Access Zoom” class to our clients to help reduce the learning curve. We also continue offering one-on-one Zoom training for those clients who need a little extra help. Every one of our clients is determined to do all they can to fight their disease and for many these past few months, that’s included learning Zoom.

One of the biggest areas of need that we’ve seen is around technology. Some of our clients don’t have a computer, a cell phone or access to the internet.

One of the biggest areas of need that we’ve seen is around technology. Some of our clients don’t have a computer, a cell phone or access to the internet. Or, if they do have those things, there is a learning curve when it comes to using them. With the opportunities we’ve seen around livestreaming, I predict there will be a growing need for technology access, education, and resources for older Americans.

We are planning to continue our livestreamed classes, even when we are able to open our facility for onsite classes. While our clients miss seeing each other in person, they also appreciate the convenience of exercising at home, connecting with their coaches and others in the class—and our remote option will provide a great alternative for our clients when Cleveland winter weather hits.

Like many small organizations, COVID-19 took us by surprise. A global pandemic isn’t anything that you can plan for. But thanks to the Adira Foundation and other generous donors, our board, our committed staff, and of course our amazing clients, we were able to continue to fulfill our mission during this time in a new and creative way.

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