Jen Harkness, Jaymi Kingston, Elliott Overs and Anthony Overs are encouraging the Canberra community to attend A Walk in the Park and help fundraise for Parkinson’s ACT. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

There is a common misconception that Parkinson’s affects only older people but for those diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease, Young@Park provides valuable support.

According to Parkinson’s Australia, Young Onset Parkinson’s generally refers to when the condition is diagnosed before the age of 50.

Anthony Overs, who founded and convenes a local Young@Park group, said this provides its own set of challenges as a “typical young person with Parkinson’s might have a young family, be mid-career and have a mortgage”.

He was inspired to start a local Young@Park group because of a lack of support for young people with the disease.

Established about 18 months ago, it is modelled on similar groups in Queensland and Victoria and, according to Anthony, has “a very simple premise”.

“It is an opportunity for young people with Parkinson’s to come together and share experiences.”

For Jaymi Kingston, who was diagnosed at 33 years of age, and is now 35, the group provides valuable information specific to Young Onset Parkinson’s, not just Parkinson’s.

“Currently there isn’t a lot of information or support, particularly for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease so it’s great to see the Young@Park group starting to push for more awareness,” she said.

Jen Harkness, who volunteers with Parkinson’s ACT and was diagnosed in 2014 at age 48, said everyone’s Parkinson’s is different and “there is life after diagnosis”, however, there are people who choose to hide their situation.

“I know people in our community who are hiding,” she said. “The sad part from that is they don’t get the support and to see people living their life well.”

Parkinson’s ACT will hold their biennial major fundraiser, A Walk in the Park, on Sunday 20 October, raising funds to help provide and expand support for people living with Parkinson’s and their families in the Canberra region.

A Walk in the Park starts at 9.30am on Sunday 20 October at Rond Terrace, Commonwealth Park with options including a 5km bridge-to-bridge fun run and walk, a timed Nordic Walk Race, and a 1.5km walk, roll or stroll in the park. Register at www.parkinsonsact.org.au or on the day. Costs apply.

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