Thursday April 16, 2009 The Star Newspaper
Day in a garden
By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
A World Parkinson's Day celebration was held in Petaling Jaya recently.
I HAD a fabulous time last Saturday. I found myself in the delightful company of several dozen people in wheelchairs. Others used walking aids to get around, whilst the rest were caregivers and non-disabled persons.
We were all gathered at a World Parkinson's Day (WPD) celebration held in the garden just outside the MBPJ headquarters in Jalan Yong Shook Lin, Kuala Lumpur.
It is believed that as many as 10,000 Malaysians may have Parkinson's disease. Although there is presently no cure for Parkinson's, the disease is treatable.
WPD is observed globally to draw attention to the plight of People with Parkinson's (PwP).
The event that we attended was a joint collaboration between the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) from Kuala Lumpur.
The smiles on the faces of the PwPs said it all. It was their special day and no one was going to stop them from having a good time.
Despite their varying degrees of paralysis, they remained cheerful. Some who couldn't smile because of their frozen faces, gave gentle nods of acknowledgment to their friends and those around them.
The organisers included two fun activities to get PwPs to exercise to loosen their frozen limbs.
One of them was a race in which the participants had to use two sticks - much like ski poles - to help them get to the finishing line.
The second was an open air music session. All of them, including the able-bodied, had a chance to test their musical skills when they were invited to play a variety of percussion instruments. The result was an out-of-the-world rhythmic experience.
One gentleman with Parkinson's grabbed everyone's attention. Because he took his medication late, he could hardly move or walk for a while until the tablets took effect. Then there was no stopping him from jumping in and having a good time during the drums and dancing session.
It wasn't only the disabled who inspired the able-bodied that morning.
Many of the handicapped guests were impressed with the way the event was organised for them.
The organisers provided wheelchairs for those who needed them. Details were looked into, and uneven pathways were levelled to allow for easier access by wheelchairs.
A disabled-friendly loo was located not too far away. The MBPJ staff had extra personnel to look out for the disabled and help them when they needed assistance.
The VIPs also did their part. Some of them were not afraid to break way from protocol to push wheelchairs.
As many as five persons received an achievement award from the MBPJ and the MPDA at the event. Three of them were PwPs and the other two were caregivers.
PwPs are not eligible to receive the disabled registration card from the government. But such a card will entitle PwPs to get special benefits, including free medication from government hospitals. Currently, medication for PwPs is very costly.
A list of names of PwPs was handed to Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar, chairman of the Permanent Committee for Health, Plantation Workers & Poverty, and Caring Government in Selangor, to have everyone of them registered.