Choir ‘gives a little back’ with $1000 donation

A special choir which helps people find their voices again has made a $1000 donation to a charity close to its heart. The Brainwave Singers marked Parkinson’s Awareness Week (1–7 November) by donating $1000 to the Bay of Plenty Parkinson’s Society. The choir uses singing to improve speech and communication in aphasia (stroke) sufferers and to delay neurological conditions like Parkinson’s. Most of its members have Parkinson’s. “The Parkinson’s Society has supported us over the years so this is just giving a little something back,” says choir founder, Bay of Plenty District Health Board Speech and Language Therapist Robin Matthews, who launched the choir seven years ago. “The money has been raised from concerts and donations. We have donated to other charities before but this is the biggest.” Mr Matthews says the choir is still going strong, with around 70 members, as it celebrated its seventh birthday. “The choir members are so committed to it and just love what they’re doing, they get so much out of it. It’s physiotherapy of the voice; singing as therapy.” “The choir has made an incredible difference to people’s ability to project their voice and to help prevent choking which are both issues with Parkinson’s,” says Christine Mercer, President of the Bay of Plenty Parkinson’s Society. “Another element is the tremendous community aspect of the choir, being with like-minded people, so understanding each other if you’re having an off day for example. It’s so important to so many people.”