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Clonroche woman behind Ireland's first ever Parkinson's boxing club

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Front row: Igor and Miroslaw Stamkiewicz, instructors, Joe Condon Young Parkinsons Ireland and Wayne Smith KBX. Back: William and Breda Kennedy, Enniscorthy treasurer local group, William Kane, New Ross; Nicola Brady Yoga instructor, Enniscorthy; Mary Casserly, Young Parkinsons Ireland committee and Terence Dunne

Front row: Igor and Miroslaw Stamkiewicz, instructors, Joe Condon Young Parkinsons Ireland and Wayne Smith KBX. Back: William and Breda Kennedy, Enniscorthy treasurer local group, William Kane, New Ross; Nicola Brady Yoga instructor, Enniscorthy; Mary Casserly, Young Parkinsons Ireland committee and Terence Dunne

Front row: Igor and Miroslaw Stamkiewicz, instructors, Joe Condon Young Parkinsons Ireland and Wayne Smith KBX. Back: William and Breda Kennedy, Enniscorthy treasurer local group, William Kane, New Ross; Nicola Brady Yoga instructor, Enniscorthy; Mary Casserly, Young Parkinsons Ireland committee and Terence Dunne

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The first ever boxing class for people living with Parkinson's has been held in New Ross.

An initiative of Young Parkinson's Ireland (YPI), group committee member Mary Casserly, along with Miroslaw Stamkiewicz who trained to be a Rock Steady Boxing instructor in Norway, the class attracted ten people. Miroslaw is the only trained coach in Ireland. He travelled from Portlaoise to conduct the session at KBX Kickboxing Club in the Woodbine Business Park, which was attended by the ten participants who are living with Parkinson's.

Mary, a married mother-of-two from the Clonroche area, said the Rock Steady Boxing concept was developed in America in 2006. 'Someone who had Parkinson's started doing boxing and different exercises and found it great for working on coordination, strength, balance, posture and voice as your voice goes lower when you have Parkinson's, so it works well on every aspect. It is a non contact sport that also incorporates other exercises specially designed to help with Parkinson's. '

Mary, 54, was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year ago. She had started feeling slight tremors and then noticed that her left arm wouldn't swing naturally while walking and then her foot started dragging - symptoms typical of Parkinson's.

'It was a number of different things over the course of three to four years,' Mary said.

'As it started to get worse I went to the doctor. I had a reduced sense of smell which can be the another sign and my family started noticing that I was holding my arm funny.'

Mary attended a neurologist and was shocked to learn that she had Parkinson's.

'I was quite young. I knew people in their seventies and eighties who have Parkinson's. Then I found out that there are people as young as 19 living with Parkinson's in Ireland.'

Mary said her trial class with Miroslaw was great. YPI were supportive of the initiative and they were very happy about the first class being held in Co Wexford, she added.

'We were very impressed with the turn-out as it was only a week's notice. The feedback has been excellent and everyone who attended wants to attend again. Two people even travelled from Dublin to take part. One of them was Joe Condon, YPI chairperson, who also found it excellent. This was only my second time doing the class and I felt really fantastic afterwards. I had an assessment done of my coordination and all. My family can't believe I'm boxing! I do yoga and exercise regularly but I have found this great. With Rock Steady boxing the very action of punching from left to right and other movements helps your co-ordination and the more exercise you do helps your medication to work better.'

Mary said there is also a social element to the class. 'You have the support of people also living with Parkinson's and you are working together to fight it. I found the support of YPI to be very beneficial as It's great to talk others at social events and the organisation is there to help so you know that you are not alone. We would be hopeful of setting up classes in New Ross in September and want to thank Miroslaw for coming. Just contact Young Parkinson's Ireland on 01-2544410 about joining.'


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