Days of hope and recognition during Parkinson Awareness Month

Joyce Gordon, CEO, Parkinson Canada
Joyce Gordon, CEO, Parkinson Canada

Joyce Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Parkinson Canada

There is no doubt that Parkinson’s changes everything. One person living with the condition explained its impact this way: “Parkinson’s disease affects EVERY aspect of my life. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning to when I fall asleep at night, my mood, physical abilities and quality of life, depend on how well my medications, stress management and exercise are working to help diminish the effects of Parkinson’s.”

While everyone’s Parkinson’s journey is unique, help and hope in navigating that journey is available to you, from many sources. You do not have to deal with Parkinson’s alone. From friends and family to health care professionals and from donors and volunteers to resources at Parkinson Canada; information, support and advocacy are available. We know that it takes a community to support people living with Parkinson’s and their families. And while we are supporting you, we take comfort knowing there is a robust scientific community in Canada and around the globe who are collaborating in the search for a cure.

Throughout Parkinson Awareness Month, Parkinson Canada groups across the country are reaching out to their communities to promote public awareness and understanding of this complex condition. While some of these events have already taken place, take a moment to visit the interactive map on our website for local event listings. There may still be activities in your town that you can attend.

Many of these events and awareness campaigns are organized and implemented by community volunteers. Last week was National Volunteer Week and several of our community groups made the effort to recognize and thank these dedicated individuals. Other Parkinson Canada groups will formally recognize their volunteers once the intense activity of Parkinson Awareness Month is over. Our organization, and those we serve, are deeply grateful to each and every one of our volunteers and recognize that the help and hope we offer relies upon their continued contributions and commitment.

About 100 of our volunteers are Parkinson Ambassadors, helping us represent the Parkinson’s community in our efforts to influence provincial and federal government policy. We are pleased that our advocacy efforts so far have resulted in marked progress in federal legislation to end genetic discrimination — Bill S-201. We hope this Bill will be passed soon, so that Canadians will enjoy the same protection from genetic discrimination as citizens of all of the other G7 countries. Not only will genetic fairness legislation outlaw genetic-based discrimination by employers and insurers; its protections should also encourage greater participation in genetic research.

Representatives from our Parkinson Ambassadors were introduced to the members of the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park on April 11, World Parkinson Day. They were recognized by MPP John Fraser, who also made a statement that day about Parkinson Awareness Month. And on April 18, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, made a statement in the House of Commons about Parkinson Awareness Month. In addition, Senator Ogilvie made a similar supportive announcement in the Senate. And in communities close to you, several local Parkinson Canada groups were successful in having their municipalities proclaim April as Parkinson Awareness Month. Awareness leads to understanding, and brings hope to people living with this life changing disease.

The messages delivered to legislators included the fact that right now in Canada some 100,000 individuals with Parkinson’s are struggling with the stigma and daily challenges of living with this complex neurological disease. By 2031, the Parkinson’s population will double. With more than 10 people diagnosed every day in Canada, chances are someone you know or love will be affected.

We at Parkinson Canada are working more cohesively than ever, to deliver the best possible support to people living with Parkinson’s. It is our number one core value: To put people with Parkinson’s first. Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who helps us, especially during Parkinson Awareness Month, to create a better life with a brighter future for Canadians living with Parkinson’s today and a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.

Your voice matters. I invite you to take the time to reach out and tell us how we have helped you, and how we can better serve your needs. Or simply send a message to communications@parkinson.ca and tell us how you’re celebrating living well with Parkinson’s.

Joyce Gordon, CEO, Parkinson Canada

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