Several years ago, we ran a program called Sidekicks. Sidekicks was a creative arts program that connected the Parkinson’s community, in particular school-age youth and people with Parkinson’s, through the power of storytelling. The goal was to help curb isolation commonly felt by people affected by Parkinson’s. While that program is no longer active, Parkinson’s Pals, co-founded by one of the students who participated in Sidekicks, has picked up where we left off and is doing so with great success.
Co-founders Udit Garg and Jaskereet (Jas) Gujral launched Parkinson’s Pals at the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 and now have active participants from Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Stonybrook, University of Wisconsin, and more.
Here’s How it Works
When you register to be part of Parkinson’s Pals, as a person with Parkinson’s or as a student, you will get matched with your pal and meet with them over Zoom one hour per week for four to six weeks. (Though in many cases, pals often extend the relationship far beyond that.) The rest is up to you. Many of the students who join the program are interested in medicine, biology, neuroscience, intergenerational work, social work, or public health, and/or they have a personal connection to Parkinson’s. Or, simply, they value the wisdom and stories that people further along in life have to share, and they want to make meaningful connections with others.
So far, there’s been nothing but positive feedback from all involved. Udit and Jas have set out “to create happiness and joy by fostering intergenerational connections between students and people with Parkinson’s, creating a collaborative, supportive, and caring community for both the patients and students”, and they have done just that.
“Parkinson’s Pals is an amazing program to help educate, inspire, and connect the younger generations with people living with Parkinson’s. Through just 4 weeks, I formed a new friendship and gained new perspectives I never could’ve without meeting my pal!” – Sophomore | University of Pennsylvania
Would You Like to Become a Parkinson’s Pal, or Do You Know Someone Who Might?
Please visit ParkinsonsPals.org. Getting set up with a pal is quick and easy, and it may very well be one of the most meaningful and joyful connections you’ll ever have.