Barcelona training to be fully ‘Parkinson’s Ready’ and welcoming

World Parkinson Congress taking place in Spanish city on July 4-7

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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In preparation for the World Parkinson Congress taking place in Barcelona in July, the World Parkinson Coalition (WPC) is making the city more accessible and accommodating for people with Parkinson’s disease.

“A significant challenge for people living with PD [Parkinson’s disease] is traveling comfortably and safely. PD is complicated and often misunderstood, so accessibility issues and lack of PD awareness by local staff can present a myriad of problems causing additional stressors” for patients and their families, Elizabeth Pollard, executive director of WPC, said in a press release.

The 6th World Parkinson Congress will bring together a broad range of the Parkinson’s community, from researchers to clinicians, patients to caregivers. More than 4,000 delegates are expected to attend this year’s meeting, set for July 4-7.

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Tailored training about Parkinson’s being given to essential city personnel

Parkinson’s Ready, a WPC initiative, aims to provide essential city personnel with the tools necessary to “showcase” Barcelona’s “friendliness and hospitality … for ALL travelers, those with movement disorders and others,” the group stated.

The program includes a series of tailored training sessions, starting this month and running through June, for transportation workers, hotel and convention center staff, police and first responders, and airport customs agents, among others.

“The collaborative and thoughtful approach taken by ‘Parkinson’s Ready’ organizers for Barcelona is truly special,” said Selma Peláez, a neurophysiotherapist in Barcelona working as an instructor for the program. “This year’s trainings will set the foundation of formalizing a protocol of community education for Parkinson’s disease, and we look forward to Barcelona setting an example to educate other communities around the world.”

Parkinson’s Ready is sponsored by AbbVie, and it being run by the WPC in collaboration with Associació Catalana per al Parkinson and the Barcelona Turisme Convention Bureau.

“Traveling long distance and moving around in a big city can be much more challenging than one can imagine,” said Fulvio Capitanio, an economist, Parkinson’s patient, and member of the congress’ steering committee. “It’s a great relief for people with Parkinson’s disease to know that you can find public servants educated about the disease and ready to help.”

The effort also will make life a little easier for the more than 160,000 people in Spain living with Parkinson’s and the country’s future guests, Peláez said. “As part of WPC’s legacy, after the congress ends the PD knowledge will stay in Barcelona with those who were trained, allowing them to support their communities.”

The World Parkinson Coalition provides an international forum for disease education and advocacy.