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What is your strength or talent?

That may seem a strange question to use in a Parkinson’s association meeting. But that what I asked is very strategic. These people have parkinson! They have plenty of weaknesses. They are used to people asking them about symptoms and many suffer from depression, anxiety and lack of motivation. It is part of the disease though everyone is affected differently do not everyone has it.

The other reason I use such an approach is because I did a Masters in Community Development which is an aspect of social work and international development which approaches development from a different perspective. The role of the community development worker is to help the people themselves. 

One of the key methods is  asset-based development. Instead of going in and asking ‘what do you need’ or condensing statements or questions about their situation they look at the strengths they have. Helping people find their strengths means helping them see their worth and see how that could help each other. That is one of my aims with Activate – the Liga of Parkinson’s en Arequipa. 

I also wanted to avoid the tearful diagnosis stories this meeting and keep it more positive. Not to say we won’t do these stories but not everytime we meet. Instead we started with singing, actions and dancing to a children’s song with a good latino rhythm. This helped everyone loosen up and have a bit of fun. 

Feeling useful and valued brings people joy and my strategy is to get people involved in running the Liga. Let’s be honest it is a lot of work alone so having help will lighten the load too especially as the people get the hang of what is involved. Family of the people with 

Parkinson’s are also invited to help out too. 

We are hoping to start some sort of exercise classes for those interested so I asked if people could help find a location and teachers and or funding or the user pays. It could take some time. 

We also had life size person outline on paper and we had everyone yell  their symptoms, and we put up the labels on the body of where they related to.  They enjoyed being the experts on the disease as we of people learn about symptoms others have. 

We had about 16 people with Parkinson’s plus family. I have 42 contacts with Parkinson’s now and the Doctor just rang to say she has more people wanting to come so we a have penciled in the 11th of February for the next meeting in the same venue to keep things moving.

In all, exciting meeting and we hope and pray the enthusiasm continue.