April is internationally recognized as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and with every year that passes, the need to draw attention to the incidence and prevalence of the disease grows. There are over 13,300 British Columbians living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a number that is expected to increase 65% by 2031. One of the first illustrations of Parkinson’s disease was published in 1886, and since then, it has been widely understood as a disease that only affects the senior population, primarily characterized by shaking. Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) is committed to changing that perception. The truth is that Parkinson’s doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. It affects people from all walks of life, and at PSBC, we are firm believers that the diversity of our community strengthens us. We’re in this together.
In 2016, we launched This is Parkinson’s disease, a campaign that will reshape your understanding of PD. A campaign that will bring together individuals across the province, country and internationally, in an effort to better the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s disease. To do this, we’re sharing the stories of real-life British Columbians living with PD.
“Every individual of the Parkinson’s community has a unique experience with the disease” says Jean Blake, CEO of Parkinson Society British Columbia. “It is our belief that our differences will unite us rather than divide. Unique perspectives contribute to our overall understanding of the disease, and rather than face a life-changing diagnosis on your own, you can find comfort and support in the collective.”
Photos only tell a fraction of the story. In 2017, This is Parkinson's disease subjects agreed to share details about their diagnoses and lives in front of a video camera. Short, shareable YouTube videos are now available online.
Help us spread this message of awareness and inclusion by participating in our This is Parkinson’s disease campaign in April. Put a poster in the window of your home, place of business and favorite local hangout (with permission). You can download a poster from one of the links below, or alternatively we have a limited supply of print posters available in 8.5” by 11”. Together, we can make a difference.
To order copies of our print posters, please contact:
Marketing & Community Engagement Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org | 604 662 3240 | 1 800 668 3330
Download and print a copy of a poster:
To complement our Parkinson’s Awareness Month campaign, This is Parkinson’s disease, we have prepared a press release to be circulated on Monday, April 3, 2017.
Social media connects us with people across the globe. It's easier than ever to help out. Download our social media cheat sheet for quick tips on promoting Parkinson's Awareness Month!
Need images for sharing via social media? Download one of these!
We wish to express our most profound gratitude to Mr. Anders Leines, a Norwegian video journalist who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s seven years ago. His 2015 campaign, This is Parkinson’s, exhibited in his home country, provided inspiration for ours. We are thankful for his guidance in helping us transform our vision into a reality.
Wayne and Elaine are part of a team of Parkinson’s support group co-facilitators in Courtenay/Comox Valley. They have been married for 52 years, and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s within two years of each other. Elaine worked with Revenue Canada, and Wayne had a career in the Alberta oilfields before his Parkinson’s symptoms forced him to retire. The couple are now both active retirees with two adult children and six grandchildren.
Richard is a 49 year old Vancouver resident. He serves on PSBC’s board of directors and is a regular participant in Parkinson SuperWalk. Like many others in the Parkinson’s community, he has committed himself to staying active in order to combat the symptoms and the progress of the disease. Rather than exercise at a gym, he prefers to play a variety of sports to help maintain his quality of life. He is a digital designer who also enjoys videography and photography. As his upbringing and values rooted in Buddhism have taught him, he strongly believes in the power of positive thought.
Hilary is 25 years old and lives in Langley with her husband Justin. She began experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms at the age of 14 and, after almost a decade, was diagnosed with PD. She credits her faith in God and her strong family support system as her source of strength. Currently, she is nourishing her creative side by working as a freelance graphic designer and website developer. In Hilary’s spare time, she takes part in the rigorous exercise program CrossFit and runs her own website and blog. Recently, her neurologist recommended her as a candidate for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery and she has since been placed on a three year waitlist for an assessment with Dr. Honey, the only neurosurgeon who specializes in DBS in British Columbia.
Hope Diamond works in corporate management by day and thrills Vancouver audiences as a comedian and drag queen by night. She was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease in 2013 and since then has continually looked for ways to positively contribute to the Parkinson’s community.
Val has been living with Parkinson’s disease for almost a decade now. Despite her diagnosis, she continues to participate in outdoor recreation activities such as skiing on the local mountains. She is also an active Director on Parkinson Society British Columbia’s Board.
Jim fell in love with motorcycles after his first long ride to Yellowstone National Park in the United States over 15 years ago. He is also a family man – his twin brother Patrick, wife Deana and dog Parker all joined him on the photoshoot for this campaign. Jim was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 33.
Viola was born in Hong Kong, and later moved to Belgium before settling in Vancouver. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1993 and has since been an active member of PSBC’s Chinese Support Group. Recently, she has taken up acrylic painting as a hobby.
Dan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007, but he didn’t let that get in the way of his lifelong interest in cycling. At the age of 81, Dan began a cross-Canada cycling journey on his recumbent bike. Other trips have included cycling from Vancouver to California and through Europe.
One of the first illustrations of Parkinson’s disease (PD) was published in 1886 and since then, it has been widely understood as a disease that only affects the senior population, primarily characterized by shaking. The truth is that PD affects individuals of all ages, ethnicities and genders. It doesn’t discriminate, and that’s the message that Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) is looking to promote during Parkinson’s Awareness Month this April. PD manifests itself through a wide spectrum of symptoms. While there are many potential challenges, it is important to keep in mind that the disease is unique to every individual.
Here are four lesser known facts about Parkinson’s disease:
- People with Parkinson’s may experience complications with communication & swallowing. Hypokinetic dysarthria, a speech disorder that causes rigidity and slowness in breathing, swallowing, voice and speech, is a condition that can affect individuals with Parkinson’s. Individuals that experience these symptoms may report feelings of increased social isolation and difficulty communicating their needs to health care providers and care partners. A speech language pathologist (SLP) can help provide treatment for this condition. One way to learn more about communication & swallowing difficulties is by attending one of our workshops facilitated by a SLP trained in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) LOUD method. These events are interactive and participatory in nature, and provide attendees with the tools they need to manage their symptoms.
- Exercise has been proven to help manage Parkinson’s symptoms. Experts have concluded that exercise can help with symptom management and even slow disease progression. National Parkinson Foundation’s Parkinson’s Outcome Project has identified that the most beneficial exercise should be consistent and intense enough to induce heavy breathing and increase heart rate. This is why many of PSBC’s programs and events encourage active living – from fundraising events such as The Parkinson’s Movement, to our train-the-trainer workshops with Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!) and Dance for PD®.
- At least 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience depression and/or anxiety. Disruption in natural sleep-wake cycle can contribute to daytime fatigue. This, in combination with changes in brain chemistry, can lead to mood changes, such as depression and anxiety. PSBC encourages individuals who may be experiencing these symptoms to turn to their doctor and support networks for help. Our support groups meet regularly in over 50 communities across British Columbia. For those looking for specialized, one-on-one counselling support, PSBC has two clinical counsellors on staff available for free, short-term sessions. These sessions are 100% confidential and can take place in person at our downtown office, by phone or over skype.
- British Columbians with Parkinson's disease may have to wait 18 to24 months to see a movement disorder specialist. Due to the complexity of PD, general practitioners often refer patients to a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders. As there are only three movement disorder clinics in B.C., the waitlists are often long. Patterns of hospitalizations strongly suggest that unless a patient with Parkinson’s is under the care of a movement disorder specialist, their overall condition will worsen. It is for this reason that PSBC has identified reducing wait list times as one of their main advocacy efforts. Increased awareness around the disease as well as continued advocacy for people with Parkinson’s is necessary to improve the lives of those living with PD.
For more information on Parkinson’s disease or any of PSBC’s programs, services and resources visit our website at www.parkinson.bc.ca or call 1 800 668 3330. You can download a version of this article here.
You are not alone, we are here to help.
We are pleased to report that the following communities have issued official proclamations in recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month in 2017:
The following landmarks will light up in PSBC colours to recognize International Parkinson's Awareness Day on Tuesday, April 11, 2017:
- Sails of Light at Canada Place, Vancouver
- Science World, Vancouver
Keep an eye out for our ads in the following publications on April 5 and April 7, 2017:
- Abbotsford News
- Chilliwack Progress
- Kelowna Capital News
- Maple Ridge News
- Vernon Morning Star
Advertisements will be visible on public transit beginning in early April in the following communities:
- Vancouver (Waterfront skytrain wall mural and interior skytrain ads)
- Victoria (interior bus ads)
- Kelowna (interior bus ads)
- Prince George (interior bus ads)
For media inquiries regarding this campaign, or to arrange for an interview with a featured person with Parkinson's, please contact:
We wish to express our most profound gratitude to Mr. Anders Leines, a Norwegian video journalist who was diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago. His 2015 campaign, This is Parkinson’s, exhibited in his home country, provided inspiration for ours. We are thankful for his guidance in helping us transform our vision into a reality [read more].