Belonging and Unity at the World Parkinson's Congress

Belonging and Unity at the World Parkinson Congress

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Following the conclusion of the World Parkinson Congress, we share our final thoughts and key takeaways. Throughout the week, the themes of friendship, belonging, and unity resonated deeply, creating a powerful sense of connection among participants. 

The Congress created an opportunity to forge and solidify international relationships. We witnessed the incredible stories of individuals like Carlota Lee, a member of our Women for Parkinson’s, who had the privilege of connecting with her virtual friends, like Sharon Krischer of Twitchy Woman. Their shared experiences, support, and mutual understanding have exemplified the strength that can emerge from these connections – regardless of distance or geography.

The WPC emphasized the importance of reinforcing existing relationships and forming new ones. We have seen people coming together to exchange knowledge, share their journeys, and offer support. The Congress created an opportunity for clinicians, care partners, researchers, and people with Parkinson’s to come together and collaborate on a common mission.

We leave WPC 2023 with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to continue the important work ahead. Let us carry forward the connections we have made and the knowledge we have gained to make a difference together in the lives of those impacted by Parkinson’s. 

Thank you.  

Reflections from Maria Marano, Manager, Research Information & Programs 

The 2023 World Parkinson Congress made a lasting impression on me. It was remarkable to see the engagement of all stakeholders in the Parkinson’s community.

There was a strong sense of inclusivity at the conference. It was the first time that I have seen all Parkinson’s community members participating in conference activities, and the involvement of clinicians, scientists, and individuals affected by the disease created a unique knowledge-sharing environment. Individuals with Parkinson’s and community organizations actively participated as speakers and presenters, providing invaluable lived experiences, and enriching the brainstorming and dialogues around each topic.

Special recognition goes to Congress organizers and the dedicated researchers who presented and ensured the Congress format and presentations were engaging and accessible for all audiences.

Meeting international colleagues, reconnecting with Canadian clients and researchers, and gathering a wealth of knowledge were personal highlights. I am excited about the many tangible and useful learnings captured, that will benefit the Parkinson Canada community. Expect more knowledge sharing in the weeks to come. 

Reflections from Li Jiang, Parkinson Canada Parkinson Advisory Council Member & WPC Volunteer  

My name is Li Jiang, a person living with Parkinson’s for the past 13 years. As a volunteer for the 2023 Barcelona WPC, I was able to participate from the preparation to the execution of the conference to work closely with over 150 volunteers from over 20 countries and to meet and talk to conference participants from across the world. The experience has been truly rewarding. 

A conference like WPC gives me hope. Hope for collaboration, where multidisciplinary professionals come together, and share their findings, thoughts, challenges and opportunities, and hope for mutual understanding among researchers. People with Parkinson’s no longer exist only behind data. They have valuable lived experiences and insightful perspectives, and to people with Parkinson’s, medical professionals are not people you meet for 15 minutes every six months. They become friends and allies, they care, they strive for a cure, and they touch your heart. 
After the closing ceremony, volunteers formed two lines to clap and wave goodbyes to participants. I was in tears. Because I see people with Parkinson’s, who do not have to fight every day, they can live peacefully with it, and they can live well with it. The disease ignites creativity, creates humour, forms friendships, and inspires spirits. Many people with Parkinson’s who attended the conference faced significant physical challenges, but they chose to come here, to be visible and to contribute, and they say: ‘Let me be the light to guide others.’    

WPC is a conference filled with love, respect, understanding and positive energy. People told me that they loved my smile at the conference. I told them that I was radiating back what I had received.