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Event connects young people with Parkinson's

Erika Faust and Kirsten Rosenkrantz | Interrobang | News | October 17th, 2011

Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario will be holding its first Life in Balance workshop for people with Young-Onset Parkinson's at the Delta London Armouries Hotel on Saturday, October 22. The workshop is sponsored by Simple Financial and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects nearly 100,000 Canadians. It causes tremors, slowness and stiffness, impaired balance and rigidity of the muscles. One in 10 people with Parkinson's are under the age of 40 when diagnosed, making further development of support programs for sufferers of Young-Onset Parkinson's a goal of the PSSO.

Manager of Programs and Services Tracey Jones said that typical support services for people with Parkinson's are geared towards people over the age of 60, and aren't working for the younger group. According to Jones, this workshop is designed to "connect people with Young-Onset Parkinson's with each other so we are able to look at improving our support services."

The day will feature four speakers with topics designed to build on everyday strategies and help people achieve a better quality of life: Jennifer Barlow, Associate Lawyer at Lerner and Associates, will cover Understanding Your Rights as an Employee; Patrycja Birbaum, Social Worker for Clinical Neurosciences at the London Health Sciences Centre is discussing Sexual Relationships and Parkinson's: Understanding Changes; Christopher Burton, Personal Financial Coach at Simple Financial, is presenting Planning Your Financial Future; and Ph.D. student at UWO Mike Ravenek is discussing Information Needs for Individuals with Young- Onset Parkinson's.

"I know for a fact that there are pockets of people across our region (with Young-Onset Parkinson's). We just thought it's an opportunity to bring together as many people as we can," said Jones, emphasizing her hope that this event will not only provide a supportive social networking group for people with Parkinson's, but that it will also help the PSSO identify who is affected in the region. "It's about quality of life, and this will provide another avenue for those with Young-Onset Parkinson's."

In the future, Jones said she plans to hold events like this one a few times per year in cities across Southwestern Ontario.

There is a $25 registration fee. Contact Tracey Jones at 519-652- 9437 ext. 28 to register for the workshop. Visit parkinsonsociety. ca for more information on Parkinson's disease and support services.
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