Written by Sara Garvey, Ph.D., Research Program Manager, Davis Phinney Foundation
This past month, we proudly presented preliminary research findings from Sidekicks™, the intergenerational program launched last year with Lundbeck, at the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in Kyoto, Japan. Sidekicks brings together school-aged youth and people with Parkinson’s in highly interactive, guided workshops to collaborate on art projects and foster storytelling.
WPC is an international conference held every three years. This meeting is truly unique as it brings together people living with Parkinson’s, researchers, clinicians and advocacy groups in one place to share the latest discoveries and treatments alongside programs and initiatives that can improve the lives of those living with Parkinson’s.
We were chosen to present a “poster” at WPC to showcase the results from four previous Sidekicks programs conducted across the United States. During conference poster sessions, presenters are asked to outline the research study or program they’re highlighting, display the poster, and be available to summarize the project and answer questions at designated times during the conference.
Poster sessions are a great way for the latest advancements in research or programs to be shared as poster authors often have not published these results yet. These sessions also provide a ripe environment for collaboration as presenters can chat with others involved in similar work.
A few takeaways from presenting at this year’s WPC:
- Sidekicks generates excitement – While presenting the poster, I fielded many questions from conference attendees who were interested in intergenerational programming and the potential to help people live well with Parkinson’s. Attendees were also very excited by our preliminary findings:
a. People with Parkinson’s reported feeling more socially connected and less isolated after participating in Sidekicks.
b. School-aged youth reported more positive attitudes regarding the traits of people with Parkinson’s. After the program, they saw their Sidekicks partners as wise, strong and active. They also felt calmer and more relaxed about interacting with people with Parkinson’s.
- Sidekicks is innovative – Our presentation was the only one out of hundreds of poster and oral presentations that represented intergenerational programming.
- Sidekicks has application – A number of people who spoke with me about the poster were interested in learning more about our recruitment efforts and wanted to brainstorm ways to increase participation. At other times during the conference, I had the opportunity to chat with other presenters who detailed their programs for people living with Parkinson’s. A consistent theme was difficulty with recruitment and retention. As Sidekicks continues to generate momentum, lessons from our success could have applications elsewhere!
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