When Natalie Muschamp saw what Parkinson’s did to a relative who eventually lost his life to the disease, she felt compelled to do something about it.

Ms Muschamp set up a voluntary organisation that aims to improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s through dance therapy and, this year, she went on to win second place at the Social Impact Awards.

Step Up for Parkinson’s has just been awarded a €24,000 grant for a project that aims to generate definitive clinical evidence regarding the benefits of dance classes for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers, increase the number of participants that can benefit from twice-weekly sessions and set up a sustainable entity that can continue to provide services.

What pushed Ms Muschamp to embark on the project was her witnessing the decline of a person with Parkinson’s within her own family. Her aunt, Ineke Spoorenberg, sadly lost her partner to the disease and, after this loss, Ms Spoorenberg walked from Amsterdam to Rome, raising €13,100 for the Dutch Parkinson’s Foundation.

She later learned about the Dance for Parkinson’s association in Brooklyn and, following some research, she felt compelled to become active in the field.

As an awardee, the project will also receive pro bono mentoring and advisory services, something the other two winners have also been granted.

In all, €91,000 were awarded to local “change-makers” at the finals of the 2018 Malta Social Impact Awards. Placing first, Ċentru Tbexbix’s Growing Generations Together project was awarded €44,000 and, in third place, BirdLife Malta’s Blooming Minds was granted €17,000.

The audience was also given the opportunity to vote for one of the projects through the Audience Participation Award, with Growing Generations Together proving to be their favourite. All of the ticket donations, which amounted to €6,000, were given to this project.

Launched by the Gasan Foundation and Inspirasia Foundation in 2016, the MSIA is an initiative that aims to create opportunities for change-makers, while inspiring others to give.

By bringing business and philanthropy together, MSIA supports local projects that have a positive social impact on Malta and helps social purpose organisations grow into stronger entities.

Through its previous two editions, MSIA supported seven local projects that cumulatively impacted the lives of over 1,000 people on the island. This year’s awards brought the total amount of support handed out to winners since 2016 to over €350,000.

The financial awards for this year’s event were sponsored by the Gasan Foundation, Inspirasia Foundation, Sigma, MeDirect, Remax and Betsson Group, while the non-financial awards were sponsored by Vistage, WH Partners, Firstbridge, PwC and Zaar.

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