Unexpected hours of health and happiness

Table tennis has proven its positive influence on slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and reducing a relapse of cancer. But what does this look like from the perspective of one of the beneficiaries of the Table Tennis Alzheimer’s project, supported by the Dream Building Fund?

Laurent is a 42-years-old participant of the DBF 19 project Ping4Alzheimers at the Levallois Table Tennis Sporting Club. Before he joined this project and general table tennis activities, he had only tried the sport in school never being any good nor liking it at all.

He and his mother Nicole found out about the project as a complementary activity through Laurent’s speech therapist as well as through the France Alzheimer’s Association, but Laurent was not very enthusiastic about joining. Many people with Alzheimer’s or relatives living with the disease can relate to Laurent’s wish not being categorised as sick or wanting to always be around sick people.

After a few conversations with his mother, he changed his mind and decided to check the weekly open session. And the rest is history as Laurent’s mother explains:

“He didn’t know. When people speak about Alzheimer, well, he imagined an activity for the elderly. So, we waited and spoke about it regularly and after a while he decided to give it a try. Since then, he is counting the days until his Tuesday session with excitement - during which he is happy and relaxed forgetting his disease.” Nicole, Mother of project participant

Renato Walkowiak, Ping4Alzheimers project leader attests to the positive and dynamic energy Laurent brings to the group.

As for Laurent himself? Well, he is happy and glad to share his experiences with his daughter.

“I do the balancing exercise with my daughter […] and she is happy and then she calls me and says, Daddy, Mommy, we have to do the balancing. And she’s happy.” Laurent, Participant of Table Tennis Alzeimers

Impact of Covid-19 on project activities

The Ping4Alzheimer programme was created with the vision of offering a dedicated space for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or in remission of Cancer. Through these sessions, identify the needs and develop specific methods or approaches for Alzheimer’s and Cancer such as the balancing exercises.

Studies have shown that table tennis can delay the effects of the disease through regular participation and provides a fun, social activity that can also raise awareness of the disease and suitable approaches in sport therapy.

In time of the Covid-19 pandemic, project leader Renato conducts weekly online check-ins with them to ensure they remember him when the sessions start again and to keep in touch with their families or caregivers. He mentioned that the lock down period is particularly hard on these Tuesday session players and their caregivers.

We, the ITTF Foundation, are inspired by these players and their support groups. We hope the sessions will start again soon, so the players can work on their balance and table tennis skills.

Thank you, Laurent’s and your family, for making this a pleasant moment for your fellow participants and for showing us the power of table tennis.

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