Gonzaga University News Feature
By Megan Hervey
Class of 2010
A new initiative launched by Gonzaga University’s Boundless Club in collaboration with the Parkinson’s Resource Center in Spokane benefits Spokane-area residents afflicted with the disabling disease through dance.
“I love this program,” said Gonzaga dance Instructor Suzanne Ostersmith, who directs the dance minor. The program brings Parkinson’s patients to campus two Saturdays each month to interact with dance students and learn stretching exercises conducive to healing and improving patients’ muscle strength.
Students in the Boundless Club, a Gonzaga dance organization, and Gonzaga dance students join professional dancer and health care professional Terry Grizzel in leading the classes. “They begin with simple breathing and stretching exercises, all accompanied with live music,” Ostersmith said. “Then they move to standing in a circle and eventually going across the floor with loco motor movements.”
For members of the Boundless Club, the program also fulfills the University’s community service requirement for student clubs. “It is great for the program and anyone witnessing what happens in the class can’t help but be moved,” Ostersmith said.
The program began earlier this year and has shown great promise.
“I believe the program will continue,” Ostersmith said. The first class had 16 students and did little to promote the event beforehand.
“That was fantastic and now [The Center for Parkinson’s] is sharing the information with others in the community,” Ostermith said, adding that the patients struggle at times with the moves their traditional college-age students perform with ease. Eventually, though, the patients gain flexibility and improve their movement through dance.
“It’s beautiful to see the ah-ha moments,” she added.
The group meets the first and third Saturday of each month. For more information, please contact Suzanne Ostersmith at (509) 313-6508 or via e-mail.