Purchase a tulip for Parkinson’s

TRADITIONALLY tulips are associated with love and romance - neurodegenerative conditions tend not to come to mind.

However as World Parkinson’s Day approaches this Friday the Shoalhaven will host Australia’s first Tulip Day for Parkinson’s awareness.

The event, being organised by Nowra Community Health Centre neurological nurse educator Marilia Pereira, will raise money for the centre’s dancercise classes for people living with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, their carers and local support groups.

Jo Szczepranowski from North Nowra has become a driving force for the upcoming awareness and fund-raising day.

She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 at 47 years.

Mrs Szczepranowski remembers the early signs; her left side becoming weaker, becoming tired, her voice getting softer, loss of balance.

She remembers her neurologist telling her the first five years would not be too bad but she would most likely feel more symptoms during the following five.

“This is my seventh year with Parkinson’s and my neurologist was right, things have changed,” she said.

“I still get angry that this is happening to me, but there are always people who are worse off.

“I am just glad my children have grown up,” she said.

Through the local Parkinson’s support group, the Shoalhaven Shakers, Mrs Szczepranowski met Ms Pereira and through her became involved in Tulip Day for Parkinson’s awareness.

The day marks the third in a series of firsts for the Shoalhaven – the area was the first to get a neurological nurse educator, the first to start a dancercise class and now the first to host Tulip Day. 

World Parkinson’s Day is celebrated worldwide on April 11 as it is the birthday of Dr James Parkinson.

The day is dedicated to advocating for people living with the condition and their families.

An English physician, Dr Parkinson first described the condition in 1817 in a work called An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.

On April 11, 2005 the red tulip was launched as the worldwide symbol of Parkinson’s disease at the ninth World Parkinson’s Disease Day Conference in Luxembourg.

The story of the Parkinson’s tulip began in 1980 in the Netherlands when Dutch horticulturalist JWS Van der Wereld who had Parkinson’s developed a red and white tulip.

In 1981 he named it the Dr James Parkinson tulip, to honour the man who first described his medical condition and to honour the international Year of the Disabled.

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