Become a Parkinson’s Ambassador in your riding

Joyce Barretto, co-Chair, National Advocacy Committee, Parkinson Society Canada
Joyce Barretto, co-Chair, National Advocacy Committee, Parkinson Society Canada

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of Canadians affected by Parkinson’s disease? If so, join our Parkinson’s Ambassador Network and play an important role in the upcoming federal election.

“Only you can present that personal perspective, whether you live with Parkinson’s or you have family or friends with the disease,” says Joyce Barretto, co-Chair of Parkinson Society Canada’s National Advocacy Committee. Barretto has a deep commitment to the Parkinson’s cause because her mother has been living with Parkinson’s for more than 18 years.

As representatives of the Parkinson’s community in political ridings across Canada, you, along with other volunteers coast-to-coast, will meet with your local MP and candidates to discuss issues impacting the Parkinson’s community. Although the election must officially be held by October 19, 2015, there are indications it will be called early – this winter or in the spring of 2015.

What are we looking for?

  • People living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers
  • Relatives and friends affected by the disease
  • Anyone who wants to help advance the Parkinson’s cause
  • People with five to 10 hours to volunteer during the election campaign
  • Strong public speakers

Parkinson Society Canada will train and provide ongoing support to our ambassadors to ensure they are fully prepared for their responsibilities during the campaign. Parkinson’s Ambassadors may also have an opportunity to participate in other national and provincial advocacy initiatives beyond the election.

“I invite you to be a voice for change and a champion in your community to get our Parkinson’s message heard,” encourages Barretto.

If you are interested in being a Parkinson’s Ambassador or have questions about this opportunity, please visit our website or contact Vanessa Foran, VP, Public Affairs and National Programs, at Vanessa.Foran@parkinson.ca or toll-free at 1-800-565-3000 ext. 3396.

Natasha discovers her perfect therapy at Giddy Up Acres

Natasha McCarthy and TBone get some exercise at Giddy up Acres in PEI.
Natasha McCarthy and TBone get some exercise at Giddy up Acres in PEI.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” — Winston Churchill

This quote introduces one of Natasha McCarthy’s recent blogposts about her life with young onset Parkinson’s disease. The 37-year-old mother of two young daughters shares her journey and her joyous re-connection with horses, the health benefits of riding and the helpful coaching of her riding instructor Amanda Tweety. Together, they have provided her with just the right exercise.

Therapeutic riding or equine therapy has been well studied in different patient populations – from people with MS to seniors and from children to people with other neurological conditions – as an effective exercise for improving balance and gait. In addition, the psychological benefits are well-documented and of course, for many, it’s great fun.

As Natasha dealt with the 15-month odyssey to confirm her diagnosis (there is no movement disorders neurologist in PEI where she lives), she did plenty of research about Parkinson’s, connected with Parkinson Society Maritime Region, joined online networks and hunted for possible ways to keep active and improve her muscle control and balance. She stumbled upon therapeutic riding and her interest was sparked.

“I had always had a love of horses and I had done some riding in my teens,” she says. “Why not try to regain and improve my English-style riding?”

Natasha’s daughter had recently taken some lessons from Amanda Tweety at Giddy up Acres, just five minutes from home. Amanda listened to Natasha’s challenges and designed a program for her, starting with a “confidence-boosting” horse named Roy. “He was a fairly lazy fellow,” says Natasha, “but he helped me get my mind wrapped around the art of posting and we practiced some techniques from times gone by.

Natasha progressed fairly quickly to TBone, a faster and more challenging horse. “Some days my poor position and moving body confuse him and frustrate me,” says Natasha, “and when I get off him, I have legs that are like jello and I can barely walk. But that is only some days.”

“It’s very much a mental and physical activity and a sweat fest most days,” says Natasha. “For anyone that’s never ridden, and I don’t mean a trail ride where you just sit back and let the horse take you along, but English-style riding, it is most definitely hard work. Posting has you constantly raising and lowering yourself in the saddle – along with all the other bits, like keeping your legs in position, watching where you’re going, keeping the reins in hand and staying upright in the saddle.”

After six months of weekly, 30-minute lessons, Natasha says there is no doubt that therapeutic riding has been beneficial to her both mentally and physically. “It’s also clear to me that Amanda is part of my care team,” says Natasha. “She may not have a medical background, but she knows why I am there, cares that I get the benefits I require, and adjusts my lessons accordingly.

“I love the horses and they make me feel peaceful and comforted and give me a little fun while I get a good physical workout.”

Online learning module accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada

A screen capture from the online learning module depicts a typical conversation between a doctor and a patient to address changing motor symptoms.
A screen capture from the online learning module.

Parkinson Society Canada’s first online learning module for family physicians was recently accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. This means physicians completing the interactive program will receive a Mainpro-M1 credit toward their required continuing professional development.

Assessment & Management of Parkinson’s Disease: Clinical Application of the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease(CGPD) is designed to educate family doctors and other health care professionals on how to properly identify the clinical signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how to implement an appropriate treatment and management plan for their patients.

“Receiving accreditation means that the program has undergone a rigorous peer-review process to ensure it meets or exceeds high-quality and ethical practice standards,” says Grace Ferrari, Manager, Education and National Programs. “A physician’s time is so limited and valuable, so taking an accredited program ensures that the content is relevant and valuable to their everyday practice and their patients.”

The module uses case scenarios accompanied by questions and answers throughout the session making it an interactive and effective learning tool. The module focuses on how to identify, treat and manage the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease online learning module was developed by Parkinson Society Canada with input from its Medical Advisory Committee that includes neurologists, movement disorders specialists and family doctors.  The Committee is chaired by Dr. David Grimes, lead author of the guidelines.

“This accredited online module will be made available to as many health care professionals as possible,” says Ferrari, “and we encourage people with Parkinson’s to inform their own family physicians and members of their care team about this opportunity to earn continuing education credits and learn the latest practice recommendations in managing Parkinson’s.”

Become a Parkinson’s Ambassador in your riding

Joyce Barretto, co-Chair, National Advocacy Committee, Parkinson Society Canada
Joyce Barretto, co-Chair, National Advocacy Committee, Parkinson Society Canada

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of Canadians affected by Parkinson’s disease? If so, join our Parkinson’s Ambassador Network and play an important role in the upcoming federal election.

“Only you can present that personal perspective, whether you live with Parkinson’s or you have family or friends with the disease,” says Joyce Barretto, co-Chair of Parkinson Society Canada’s National Advocacy Committee. Barretto has a deep commitment to the Parkinson’s cause because her mother has been living with Parkinson’s for more than 18 years.

As representatives of the Parkinson’s community in political ridings across Canada, you, along with other volunteers coast-to-coast, will meet with your local MP and candidates to discuss issues impacting the Parkinson’s community. Although the election must officially be held by October 19, 2015, there are indications it will be called early – this winter or in the spring of 2015.

What are we looking for?

  • People living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers
  • Relatives and friends affected by the disease
  • Anyone who wants to help advance the Parkinson’s cause
  • People with five to 10 hours to volunteer during the election campaign
  • Strong public speakers

Parkinson Society Canada will train and provide ongoing support to our ambassadors to ensure they are fully prepared for their responsibilities during the campaign. Parkinson’s Ambassadors may also have an opportunity to participate in other national and provincial advocacy initiatives beyond the election.

“I invite you to be a voice for change and a champion in your community to get our Parkinson’s message heard,” encourages Barretto.

If you are interested in being a Parkinson’s Ambassador or have questions about this opportunity, please visit our website or contact Vanessa Foran, VP, Public Affairs and National Programs, at Vanessa.Foran@parkinson.ca or toll-free at 1-800-565-3000 ext. 3396.