Local health briefs: Zumba class for kids in Palmetto

September 24, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Zumba instructor Bertha Alvarez is inviting kids ages 7 to 11 to join the Zumba craze. She will be leading a Zumba Kids workshop 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sept. 28 at the Palmetto Arts Center, 907 Fifth St. W., Palmetto.

"It's a really good time," said Alvarez about Zumba Kids. The routine features Latin-inspired music with kid-friendly songs.

"In the kids' class we show the basic steps and at the end of class they will be able to perform the whole song," said Alvarez. Games are part of the class.

Zumba Kids is a good alternative for children who don't want to play sports but need an opportunity for exercise, she said.

The workshop costs $10. For children who want to continue, Alvarez will be teaching Zumba Kids classes from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Saturday. Cost of the class series will be $80 for an eight-week session or $12 per class for drop-ins.

For more information, call Alvarez at 941-238-7659.

Parkinson's Wellness Club to hold first meeting

BRADENTON -- The Parkinson's Wellness Club's new branch in Manatee County is holding its first meeting at 10 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Health Care Center at Heritage Harbor, 1040 River Heritage Drive, Bradenton.

The club will meet at the same time every first Wednesday of the month with speakers focusing on a range of topics from golf as occupational therapy to driving evaluations.

The Oct. 2 meeting features information about rehab exercises for people with Parkinson's and a therapy called LVST-Big that works to improve walking.

Parkinson's often causes shuffling of the feet and the therapy works through an exercise regimen that exaggerates the length of steps, said Wanda Jackson, Sarasota Memorial's outpatient coordinator. The big steps recalibrate the brain to reduce shuffling and allow for more normal walking, she said.

The club also is for socializing and getting to know others with Parkinson's. Caregivers are welcome, said Jackson.

Attendance is free. For more information, call Jackson at 941-917-4156 or email wanda-jackson@smh.com.

Alzheimer's sufferer to speak Oct. 1

BRADENTON -- In January 2012, former NFL player and Sarasota resident Charley Harraway received a devastating diagnosis: At age 67, he had early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Harraway will tell his story -- and how he created a "game plan" for brain health -- from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at the South Manatee Branch Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton.

"It was a very traumatic thing to get the diagnosis. The only thing I knew about Alzheimer's was that it is a death sentence but would have a horrible lead-up before you died," said Harraway, who was a fullback for the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns.

Better nutrition and rigorous exercise has helped improve his brain function, said Harraway. He became a brain health coach through the World Coaching Institute to share what he experienced with others.

"There is no cure for Alzheimer's so we're not talking cure here," said Harrington. "But if you do the right things, you can create cognitive reserve."

For more information about his talk, email charley@wescore4u.com.

Health fair held for Gay Men's HIV/AIDs Day

BRADENTON -- The Department of Health in Manatee County will hold its annual health fair in recognition of Gay Men's HIV/AIDs Day 4-8 p.m. Sept. 26.

The free event will be at Touch of Class, 5131 14th St. W., Bradenton, and feature free confidential HIV testing and screenings for other sexually transmitted diseases. There also will be live entertainment, raffle prizes and refreshments.

As a group, gay and bisexual men are the most severely affected by HIV, said Robert Merlosi, HIV program director at DOH-Manatee.

Sixty-one percent of new infections occur in gay men although they represent only 2 percent of the population, he said. African American gay and bisexual men fare the worst; between 2008 and 2010 their infection rates rose 20 percent.

"A large percentage don't know they are infected," said Merlosi.

The event and free testing also are open to anyone in the community.

Susan Hemmingway, Herald health correspondent, can be reached at shemmingway@hotmail.com.

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