This article was published in The West End Times February 4, 2012.
Winter is still here although it’s been good to us this year. I am always amazed at how people do so well when they have the support they need to stay healthy even when times are tough, the winds are blowing and we move on in age though some of us hate to admit it. I often rant about our sick care system and how it should be more focused on “Health” and supporting “Healthy Living”. Even when people are diagnosed with a disease they can live with that disease in healthy ways. One of the diseases we don’t hear that much about is Parkinson’s disease. According to statistics, there are nearly 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Canada. This number is expected to double by the year 2016. As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Despite its debilitating effects, many sufferers of Parkinson’s disease have enjoyed considerable achievement in a wide variety of fields. They include champion athletes, award-winning actors and actresses, acclaimed singers and musicians, respected authors and artists and prominent heads of state. The most famous athlete to suffer from Parkinson’s disease is Muhammad Ali, the American boxing champion. Among actors with Parkinson’s, the most prominent is undoubtedly Michael J. Fox, the American actor who starred in the “Back to the Future” movies and several well known TV shows. The best-known musician to have suffered from Parkinson’s is Johnny Cash, the American singer/songwriter who enjoyed late-career resurgence despite his illness. Charles Schulz, cartoonist and creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, suffered from Parkinson’s disease, as did Ralph McQuarrie, futurist and set designer of “E.T.” and “Star Wars“.
Closer to home and also world renowned, Niska an international Canadian artist resides in Lachine. Niska who has had over 300 exhibitions in over 14 countries was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nine years ago. When he paints he is liberated from his tremors. Niska is committed to raising awareness about Parkinson’s. For those with the disease, symptoms may cause embarrassing moments while others look on. It so often may seem preferable to find comfort in isolation. Not so for those who are champions and are out there helping us gain a better understanding of the disease breaking down taboos and stigmas.
In Niska’s mission to promote quality of life and creativity, he feels privileged to have been invited to partner with a Lachine Senior Citizen’s group better known as “The Teapot” which is one of the best kept secrets in town. This community center for those 50+ or as they like to call themselves, “the older adults”, is truly a home away from home for their 800 members. It is one of those groups that I am so impressed with…they embrace ageing and they do it really well! The center is celebrating its 35 years of growth. The Teapot is bubbling with activities from Tai Chi to tap dancing from Spanish lessons to foot care clinics. They have created a thriving environment with the enthusiastic and dedicated leadership of their Director, Carolyn Arsenault, where everyone is welcome to explore their own interests and broaden their horizons while stimulating their peers to do the same. “Our goal is to keep our OLDER ADULTS healthy, active and connected to their community.”
Niska has donated a beautifully framed giclee of his works. This work is particularly meaningful because it was reproduced into a sixteen square foot reproduction as part of the Global quilt project exhibited in Scotland at the World Parkinson’s Congress October 2010. The Teapot has organized a Silent Auction Benefit and is delighted to have Niska as one of the contributing partners. Niska’s work is among the top 12 chosen artists of several countries to represent the World Parkinson Congress in Washington DC.
The Teapot is inviting the community to join in on an exciting “Silent Auction Benefit” February 17th at its center located in one of the treasured historic waterfront properties in Lachine, Le Maison de Brasseur, offered generously by the Borough of Lachine. Thanks to the many volunteers under the Chairmanship of Bill Harris and the President, Emily Dubé, there will be entertainment, quality items at great discount prices, surprises and much more. This evening will help finance the wonderful programming for this non-profit organization. Join these active “older adults” taking charge of their own health. We can all learn from them. For more information on this evening contact: 514-637-5627 Tickets-$10.00 /Parking-Free.