Local Artist Ruth Hassall has been named by the Eurobodalla Parkinson’s Support Group as this year’s Parkinson’s Community Hero to commemorate April as World Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The Parkinson’s Community Hero Program was run across the state by Parkinson’s NSW which invited its more than 90 Parkinson’s Support Groups to nominate their local community heroes – individuals and groups which have made contributions that improved the lives of local people living with Parkinson’s. Nominations varied widely – including Members of Parliament, Allied Health practitioners, supportive community organisations, and active fundraisers. Parkinson’s is a progressive, degenerative condition of the central nervous system. Its causes are unknown, and a cure has not yet been found. “Ruth introduced our Support Group to a Parkinson's-focused Occupational Therapist as a guest speaker at one of our meetings. Then, on her own initiative, she studied ‘Painting with Parkinson's' technique to provide our participants with the program,” said Joy Overs from the Support Group Leadership Team. “Ruth also paved the way for us to be involved in the Oyster & Arts Festival, enabling us to promote our Support Group and raise awareness of Parkinson’s in our community. Her positive approach and gentle manner are both encouraging and enlightening.” Joy explained that Parkinson’s is more prevalent than many common cancers – including prostate, breast, colorectal, and lung cancers in Australians over the age of 50. “Yet despite cancers being declared a National Health Priority Area (NHPA) for Federal and State Governments, Parkinson’s is not. Diagnosis of Parkinson’s can take years, and people can live with it for decades. That makes supporting wellbeing and independence priorities for people living with this misunderstood disease,” she said. During April, members of Parkinson’s Support Groups are out in force, rallying support, holding BBQ’s, hosting morning teas and events, and providing information and education opportunities. Currently Parkinson’s NSW has four Parkinson’s Specialist Nurses working in regional NSW. With more than 65,000 people in NSW living with Parkinson’s and the increasing number of people being diagnosed, plus long waitlists for people to access medical help, the need for specialist nurses to support people in regional communities is becoming greater. The organisation’s goal is to have another five nurses placed in regional NSW communities by 2022. For more information about Parkinson’s NSW, local Parkinson’s Support Groups, and how to donate, make a free call to the Parkinson’s NSW InfoLine: 1800 644 189
Above: Local Artist Ruth Hassall has been named by the Eurobodalla Parkinson’s Support Group as this year’s Parkinson’s Community Hero to commemorate April as World Parkinson’s Awareness Month.