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Constance Alexander: Grant honors public health, Parkinson’s, poetry and people with disabilities

According to writer T.S Eliot, “April is the cruelest month,” but in Murray, Ky., it is one of the busiest.

A series of events associated with poetry, Parkinson’s, and public health is planned for the community, in conjunction with the Murray-Calloway County Hospital’s Endowment for Health Care and the run-up to its 7th annual half-marathon, Saturday, April 22.

Since April is National Poetry Month, WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate, will be broadcasting original short poems about people with disabilities and the challenges and victories they encounter in everyday life. Seventh graders from Murray Middle School, all students of Hope Foster, wrote the poems during a writing workshop in January. The result is “Poetry Minutes,” airing every week day on WKMS.

The poems will be posted on the station’s website for the month, and also displayed at Murray’s Center for Accessible Living, North 16th Street in Murray.

April is also Parkinson’s Awareness Month, so on Tuesday, April 18, the Endowment for Health Care is hosting a presentation by neurologist, Dr. Christopher King, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Calloway County Public Library. Dr. King works with families and caregivers and patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which affects about one in 100 people in America.

After Dr. King’s talk, information about Rock Steady Boxing, a non-contact exercise program for Parkinson’s patients, will be available. This unique wellness regimen for Parkinson’s patients has recently been introduced at Murray’s Center for Health and Wellness.

A clip from the film “Ride With Larry” will be on view too. The documentary chronicles Larry Smith’s 300-mile, recumbent bike ride across South Dakota. Smith has fought Parkinson’s for more than twenty years, using exercise and other creative approaches to deal with the challenges of the disease. His journey of hope is inspiring to the able-bodied, those with disabilities, care givers, the elderly, and anyone facing the temporary or permanent challenges of a life-altering illness.

At the library on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m., three female athletes – Susan Davis, Laura Miller, and Dr. Julia Lyles – will share their reactions and reflections on Lisa Reisman’s book, “Five Months Ten Years Two Hours.” The memoir details the author’s battle against a deadly, grade-four glioblastoma, and how training for a triathalon helped her deal with the devastating diagnosis. Multiple copies of the book are available at the library through Sandy Linn, Community Relations Coordinator.

Everyone is welcome to participate, whether or not they have read the book.

On Thursday, April 20, two free screenings of “Ride with Larry” are scheduled at Murray’s Cheri Theatres, 1008 Chestnut Street. The film chronicles Larry grueling journey to raise awareness of Parkinson’s. The 1:30 p.m. screening is reserved for adults from local and regional senior citizens’ centers. The 5 p.m. showing is open to all at no charge.

Another arts event on April 20 is the Badgett Playhouse murder mystery production of “Who Shot the Mayor?” at The Alley Restaurant on Main Street. The event is already sold out, with proceeds donated to Murray’s Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House.

All the public events in April are related to good health and some aspect of disability, with an emphasis on using the arts as a way to foster inclusion of adults with disabilities in community activities. Funding is through an Arts Access Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to the Murray-Calloway County Endowment for Health Care.

According to Keith Travis, Vice President of Development, “The community has been pro-active in recognizing the needs of children with disabilities, but we can do better to ensure that adults with disabilities are not overlooked,” he said.

“The arts are a model for inclusion, and an important factor in a community’s overall health,” he continued, “but without safe and convenient access, people with disabilities may encounter barriers that made their participation difficult.”

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For information about the Murray-Calloway County Endowment for Health Care contact Keith Travis at 270-762-1908. Visit www.MCCHEndowment.org, or email Mr. Travis at ktravis@murrayhospital.org.


Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray, Ky. She can be reached at Calexander9@murraystate.edu. Or visit her website.

Read all posts by Constance Alexander on KyForward

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