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Get involved with Light Up Blue for Parkinson's and Poems for Parkinson's for World Parkinson's Day 2023 on Tuesday April 11

The Indie's Parkinality columnist Julie Walker, of Bishop's Stortford, writes not about parking, but about living with Parkinson's disease in her 50s…

I could spend my time penning an enthusiastic piece promoting World Parkinson's Day, taking place on Tuesday April 11, or I could elevate my feet and spend my time perfecting my thumb-twiddling technique.

As I have been working hard, along with other volunteers and staff from charity Parkinson's UK to put together the information for World Parkinson's Day, I will be doing the latter.

So I am leaving you in the capable hands of Parkinson's UK to explain how you can get involved. Normal service will be resumed.

A few words from the team at Parkinson's UK

Living with Parkinson's is tougher than people think. But it doesn't define you. You are still you. You can still do amazing things in spite of Parkinson's. Parkinson's is different for everyone. Different symptoms, different experiences. Diagnosis is scary and there's currently no cure.

Living with Parkinson's can be challenging, but one thing stands out. The Parkinson's community is bright and brilliant.

Each of you will find your light in your individual ways. Maybe it's trying to see the funny side. Fighting back against a condition that feels like it's taking over your body. Finding new ways to keep doing the things you love. Or simply getting through a bad day and hoping tomorrow will be better.

Parkinson's is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world. Everyone has their own set of symptoms and deals with them in different ways. Everyone reacts differently to getting a diagnosis. Some people want to join a support group, learn tai chi, abseil down a building. Some people really don't.

So what can you do?

The first initiative is Light Up Blue for Parkinson's when landmarks, businesses and homes will be turning a hue of blue to show their support for the 145,000 people in the UK who live with the condition. The second, Poems for Parkinson's, invites people to share their personal stories to help more people understand the reality of living with the condition.

Whether it's an iconic building, your front room or a village hall, light it up blue for Parkinson's this World Parkinson's Day. Whatever you decide, do it in your own bright and brilliant way.

Buildings such as theatres, city halls, museums, monuments or bridges have the potential to light up blue. Take a walk or drive in the evening for some inspiration. Light up your own home blue or ask a business in your community. This could be the village hall, shops, cafes or where your local Parkinson's group meets.

Parkinality columnist Julie Walker. Pic: Vikki Lince
Parkinality columnist Julie Walker. Pic: Vikki Lince

Get your neighbours involved too and turn your whole street blue. If you'd prefer to turn something blue in your own way, go for it! Create a blue piece of art, wear a blue outfit or paint your nails blue.

If you have been touched by Parkinson's, help us to shine a light with a poem this World Parkinson's Day. Let your bright and brilliant shine through and write a short poem. Tell the world how Parkinson's has affected you or someone you care about.

You may have had Parkinson's for years or be newly diagnosed. Maybe someone you love is living with Parkinson's. Why not ask your family to write about how they feel about Parkinson's? Or sit with a group of friends and write something together?

Every one of our stories is unique and special. Together we can raise awareness of Parkinson's. Your poem can take any form. It might rhyme, it might not. It doesn't matter, it's up to you. It's your Parkinson's story. Tell it your way but please keep it short, no more than five lines.

Paul Jackson-Clark, director of fundraising and experience at Parkinson's UK, said: "It's an incredible honour for me and the charity to be working with such passionate and driven members of the Parkinson's community to bring their ideas to life this World Parkinson's Day.

"Despite the growing number of people living with a diagnosis - another 18,000 will be diagnosed this year - awareness is still low.

"By inviting people to raise awareness of Parkinson's this April, we hope that this will start to change and that people with the condition feel understood and supported by their local communities."

Visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/worldparkinsonsday to find out how you can get involved with Light Up Blue for Parkinson's or Poems For Parkinson's, as well as how you can support people with Parkinson's.

The charity also has a free confidential helpline 0808 0303 8000.

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