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TWU students partner with physical therapy center to host Parkinson’s auction

On an early October Saturday morning, Tribe Wellness, a non-profit organization that aims to alleviate those with Parkinson’s disease, briefs a Facebook live audience on why they should donate to their cause. Tribe member and founder, Michael Braitsch, showcases several art pieces that are available for auction, the proceeds of the fundraiser to help the group reach official 501(c)(3) status. 

Texas Woman’s University physical therapy graduate students partnered with Tribe Wellness for Art in Motion, a project that involved Parkinson’s patients dipping boxing gloves in paint and boxing at a canvas to create murals. The murals, sold during the Facebook auction Oct. 24, incorporated movement and creativity to benefit Parkinson’s patients.

The students became involved with Tribe through their professor Kelli Brizzolara and community partner Mike Braitsch. An aspect of the PT graduate program is to meet service hours by centering on health and wellness. 

Brizzolara teaches PT-5162, a physical therapy course that is the second in a two-course series on health and wellness. Part of the class requires students to partner with community-based agencies around the DFW in order to collaborate on a health and wellness project. 

“We partnered with their client to do some assessments for neurological impairments and functional assessments,” Brizzolara said. “We wanted to bring awareness to what Mike and Tribe Wellness are doing.”

Elizabeth Noble, a physical therapy graduate student, became involved with Tribe Wellness because of her shared interest in the cause, pairing with her peers to help bring a project together for the organization. 

“The reason we were drawn to the organization was because of the holistic nature of the cause,” Noble said. 

For Noble, her involvement has been an enjoyable experience especially since, due to complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it allowed her and her peers to get creative. 

“It’s been a very inspiring journey,” Noble said. “This project has looked a lot different than other projects that have been done in the past. We had to get really creative because of COVID and still bring that health and wellness while still remaining virtual.”

One of the group’s goals is creating meaningful ways to incorporate movement in day-to-day activities. Part of Noble’s assignment was to create a project that incorporates those elements. 

The art canvases sold Saturday were created by members of Tribe by utilizing non-contact boxing. By promoting movement, boxing has shown to help those with Parkinson’s.

 “It’s a good way to promote rotation, balance and physical activity,” Noble said. 

Noble said that they wanted to incorporate boxing and creativity to alleviate their patient’s mood. 

“We had a brainstorming meeting where a lot of ideas were thrown around but ultimately, we wanted to do something that promoted health and wellness,” Noble said. “We also wanted to be able to give the organization hope in a pretty seemingly hopeless time, so we decided to create this fundraiser”. 

After much planning for the fundraiser, Noble and her peers found that channeling the arts through movement was a great way to help the members. Due to COVID-19, the group had to find safe ways to still execute their project. 

“We had to make sure everything was going to be executed safely because Parkinson’s Disease comes a lot with comorbidity,” Noble said. “The way we ended up executing the first step was to create this art canvas”. 

Brizzolara said she is proud to see the students take initiative with the project. 

“They’re really just embracing the profession and what the profession has to offer,” Brizzolara said. “It’s refreshing to see the students take ownership of these projects”.

Proceeds of the art sales will help the organization achieve official non-profit status which will give people the opportunity to participate in what Tribe Wellness offers. 

Sabrina Gomez can be reached at sgomez@twu.edu.

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