On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, five members of Parkinson’s Awareness and Action Cornwall attended City Hall to present handmade wooden tulips to Mayor Justin Towndale as part of their annual efforts to raise Parkinson’s awareness in our community and surrounding areas.
As part of a new tradition started last year, the mayor and group members participated in Stand Up to Parkinson’s, completing 342 sit-to-stands in 3 minutes. The Stand Up to Parkinson’s campaign is an awareness initiative started to highlight the fact that exercise is the number one prescription for people with Parkinson’s and can help slow the progression of the disease.
“The goal initially put out was to have one sit-to-stand for every person with Parkinson’s in Canada which is 100,000. Last year was the first year it happened, and they got up to 12,000, which isn’t bad for a start. The amazing thing was that over half of that came from Cornwall,” said Tom Olien (local support facilitator with Parkinson’s). He explained that the community, including schools and fitness classes, really rallied behind the cause.
In 2022, the global count for sit-to-stands was over 500,000. This year, people around the world completed over 1,000,000 sit to stands in 24 hours on April 11th as part of the Stand Up to Parkinson’s Campaign.
“There’s a lot of people who have Parkinson’s and they disappear into the woodwork,” Olien said, explaining that there is a tendency in individuals who have Parkinson’s to withdraw and go into self.
“But we’re trying to draw them out of the woodwork,” added Virginia Lake with a laugh.
Parkinson’s Awareness and Action Cornwall is a group that is there to support local and regional individuals with Parkinson’s. They help people find wheelchairs or walkers when needed, organize exercise groups, and offer support to both Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers. They are often out raising awareness in the community and acting in any way they can.
The team told Mayor Towndale that while Parkinson’s Canada provides great resources and books on Parkinson’s to those who request them, they do not have representatives in the communities like they used to. The group does most of the work they do on their own as volunteers.
Another popular event that raises funds and awareness for Parkinson’s is the Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, which takes place in September each year. Last year the event returned to Lamoureux Park in-person for the first time after COVID, and the group is looking forward to it again this year.