Sidekicks Program to Connect Parkinson’s Patients and Youth

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Sidekicks program

Two Parkinson’s organizations are joining forces with the Davis Phinney Foundation and Lundbeck to start a program that connects people with Parkinson’s disease and school-aged youth through fun and creative story-sharing.

A key goal of  Sidekicks is to let Parkinson’s patients and youths share stories about each other in ways that promote mutual understanding and foster connection.

Other Sidekicks partners are the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, Parkinson’s Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The program includes four interactive sessions designed to facilitate creative expression and help participants gain insights into one another’s experiences. During the sessions, the  participants will work together to create projects like handprint art, imaginative ideascapes, and rock art.

Youth participants will be able to deepen their understanding of Parkinson’s, learn how to have a positive outlook, and meet people who have different experiences from their own.

“We’re thrilled to launch Sidekicks with our partners as a new way to help people with Parkinson’s live well today,” Polly Dawkins, executive director of the Davis Phinney Foundation, said in a press release. “This program harnesses the power of intergenerational relationships while capturing the life stories of people with Parkinson’s in a creative and unexpected way.”

The Parkinson’s and youth participants will be surveyed before and after the Sidekicks program to see whether it produces any benefits.

The surveys will look at whether Sidekicks can reduce Parkinson’s patients’ feelings of isolation and improve their self-esteem. They will also evaluate whether Sidekicks helps young people learn more about Parkinson’s, whether it helps them develop a more positive attitudes towards people with the disease, and where it gives them a more positive outlook on dealing with adversity and life in general.

“We strive to inspire progress in Parkinson’s through partnerships and programs that make a difference in the community,” said Lorena Di Carlo, Lundbeck’s vice president and general manager of neurology. “There is a common feeling of isolation among people with Parkinson’s, and intergenerational programs like Sidekicks can help inspire positivity in living with Parkinson’s while creating greater understanding for youth of what it’s like to live with this condition.”

The program will start in Chicago, Denver and Tampa in April, in conjunction with Parkinson’s Awareness Month. It will roll out in seven additional U.S. cities in the fall.

You can join the Parkinson’s Sidekicks Facebook community here.

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