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Shaking Up the Stigma

Shaking Up the Stigma

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

July 8, 2019

Havas Lynx UK launches online platform supporting people with Parkinson’s disease

"A diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of life and there’s still plenty to smile about."

People with Parkinson’s disease, or “Parkys” a nickname that some use, celebrated World Parkinson’s Day on earlier this year. Havas Lynx UK joined forces with illustrators to create Parkylife.com and the Parkylife Instagram that brings together a combination of stories, hacks, perks and profiles of those who have the disease. Matt Eagles, Head of Patient Engagement at Havas Lynx Group and Parkinson’s Advocate, and his team share about the project and its impact for the Parkinson’s community.

 

Tell us a little about this campaign?

Traveling from London on the train one evening I saw a guy twitching and writhing about. The more he tried to hide it the worse it got. I said, “Don’t worry, I know exactly how you feel. I do the same, I have Parkinson’s.” Strangely, his shakes began to subside—it was almost as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. I smiled at him and said, “Parkinson’s isn’t the end of the world—you can turn potentially awkward situations to your advantage you know.”

All the way back home I was thinking how terrible his moment of diagnosis must have been for him and how frightened he looked on the train. I wondered if we could help him and others see Parkinson’s in a different light. That’s when Parkylife was born.

Parkylife is a platform for Parky people, by Parky people. As we discovered when we began this project, there is a whole community of people with Parkinson’s who have found ways to work with their quirks and unexpected body movements. Remarkably, some even manage to laugh at themselves. So we brought together all of their wonderful stories, hacks, tips and perks and highlighted the inspiring folk who have achieved great things despite their diagnosis. It’s about learning to adapt to life with Parkinson’s by applying a healthy dose of positivity.

 

What are some misconceptions that people have about people living with Parkinson’s disease, and how do you envision Parkylife being used to educate them?

The great thing about Parkylife is that it shakes off the stigmas surrounding Parkinson’s. If you Google Parkinson’s right now, you are faced with row upon row of images of grey-haired old men in cardigans. This is not only a huge misrepresentation of the Parky population, but it’s also needlessly negative. No wonder so many people plummet into depression after diagnosis.

The reality is, Parkinson’s can affect men and women of all ages, and all walks of life, from teenagers, to mums, to celebrities and CEOs. And many of these Parky people have learned to adapt to their symptoms by reframing their disease in a positive light. Many have even achieved great things that perhaps they wouldn’t have considered pre-Parkinson’s. 

So we think there is tremendous value in Parkylife. Because in the making of the project we have seen the proof that this disease doesn’t have to be the end of life. It many ways it’s the start of a new chapter.

 

Why use illustrations as a way to communicate the positivity, perks, and hacks of living with Parkinson’s?

The idea of using illustrations was to directly counteract the negativity of that grey haired old “Parky Man” we see all over Google in and countless other Parkinson’s materials. We wanted everything about Parkylife to truly represent Parky people; and therefore imagery had to be bright, optimistic, quirky and above all leave you smiling.

 

How are the illustrators and illustrations chosen to display on the site?

This entire project has been created by the goodwill of creative community. There is no client and no money. It was simply an idea that came out of conversations and brainstorming sessions. We could see the need for a platform like this and we were all extremely passionate about it. We also knew we’d need a little help to get it up and running. So we contacted all of our favorite illustrators, some of whom we’ve worked with before, and told them about the project. We were absolutely bowled over by their response, and by the generosity of so many talented people who were more than happy to donate a unique illustration for each story and insight.

"It’s about learning to adapt to life with Parkinson’s by applying a healthy dose of positivity."

The project includes a 52 pack of positivity booster cards. Why did you decide to make a physical product in addition to online and social media? 

The core of the idea is that Parkylife can give Parky people a boost if they feel low or isolated. When Parky’s getting you down, we’re here to pick to pick you up. And having a tangible, tactile pack of positivity sitting on the coffee table or on the worktop or by the bed makes the whole idea even more accessible. It’s a permanent and physical reminder that you’re not alone and there are plenty of people in the same boat as you. And we just loved the idea that if you are having an off day you can instantly dive in and choose a card to give you a lift. It’s a bit like having a support buddy at your side at all times.

 

Who can get involved in this project and how do you want people to get involved?

We want Parkylife to grow. We want it to become the go-to place for all people with Parkinson’s people to feel inspired, uplifted, meet new people and share their own stories and tips. We’d love anyone with Parkinson’s, and also caregivers and HCPs to visit, contact us, and share their insights and stories, so that we can keep adding to our Perks, Hacks, Stories and Peeps, making this platform a rich  and extremely valuable hub of Parky positivity.

 

What do you hope comes from the conversation you’re starting on social media around Parkinson’s?

Ultimately, we want to reach every single person living with Parkinson’s and help them overcome symptoms, feel less isolated, and ultimately feel happier.  But as well as being a support for Parky people, our ambition is to change perceptions of the disease. We want to shake off those stigmas, banish all pictures of old men in cardigans and help the world see that there’s more to Parkinson’s than just a shaky old person with wobbly hands.

 

How do you see the future for people with Parkinson’s evolving?

Quite simply we hope the future can evolve into a happier place for anyone diagnosed. Yes, it’s a serious neurological condition and this isn’t about dismissing or belittling the seriousness of the disease. As many Parky Peeps have told us, a diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of life and there’s still plenty to smile about. Which, for people who are lacking dopamine, surely only be a good thing.

"A diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of life and there’s still plenty to smile about."

People with Parkinson’s disease, or “Parkys” a nickname that some use, celebrated World Parkinson’s Day on earlier this year. Havas Lynx UK joined forces with illustrators to create Parkylife.com and the Parkylife Instagram that brings together a combination of stories, hacks, perks and profiles of those who have the disease. Matt Eagles, Head of Patient Engagement at Havas Lynx Group and Parkinson’s Advocate, and his team share about the project and its impact for the Parkinson’s community.

 

Tell us a little about this campaign?

Traveling from London on the train one evening I saw a guy twitching and writhing about. The more he tried to hide it the worse it got. I said, “Don’t worry, I know exactly how you feel. I do the same, I have Parkinson’s.” Strangely, his shakes began to subside—it was almost as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. I smiled at him and said, “Parkinson’s isn’t the end of the world—you can turn potentially awkward situations to your advantage you know.”

All the way back home I was thinking how terrible his moment of diagnosis must have been for him and how frightened he looked on the train. I wondered if we could help him and others see Parkinson’s in a different light. That’s when Parkylife was born.

Parkylife is a platform for Parky people, by Parky people. As we discovered when we began this project, there is a whole community of people with Parkinson’s who have found ways to work with their quirks and unexpected body movements. Remarkably, some even manage to laugh at themselves. So we brought together all of their wonderful stories, hacks, tips and perks and highlighted the inspiring folk who have achieved great things despite their diagnosis. It’s about learning to adapt to life with Parkinson’s by applying a healthy dose of positivity.

 

What are some misconceptions that people have about people living with Parkinson’s disease, and how do you envision Parkylife being used to educate them?

The great thing about Parkylife is that it shakes off the stigmas surrounding Parkinson’s. If you Google Parkinson’s right now, you are faced with row upon row of images of grey-haired old men in cardigans. This is not only a huge misrepresentation of the Parky population, but it’s also needlessly negative. No wonder so many people plummet into depression after diagnosis.

The reality is, Parkinson’s can affect men and women of all ages, and all walks of life, from teenagers, to mums, to celebrities and CEOs. And many of these Parky people have learned to adapt to their symptoms by reframing their disease in a positive light. Many have even achieved great things that perhaps they wouldn’t have considered pre-Parkinson’s. 

So we think there is tremendous value in Parkylife. Because in the making of the project we have seen the proof that this disease doesn’t have to be the end of life. It many ways it’s the start of a new chapter.

 

Why use illustrations as a way to communicate the positivity, perks, and hacks of living with Parkinson’s?

The idea of using illustrations was to directly counteract the negativity of that grey haired old “Parky Man” we see all over Google in and countless other Parkinson’s materials. We wanted everything about Parkylife to truly represent Parky people; and therefore imagery had to be bright, optimistic, quirky and above all leave you smiling.

 

How are the illustrators and illustrations chosen to display on the site?

This entire project has been created by the goodwill of creative community. There is no client and no money. It was simply an idea that came out of conversations and brainstorming sessions. We could see the need for a platform like this and we were all extremely passionate about it. We also knew we’d need a little help to get it up and running. So we contacted all of our favorite illustrators, some of whom we’ve worked with before, and told them about the project. We were absolutely bowled over by their response, and by the generosity of so many talented people who were more than happy to donate a unique illustration for each story and insight.

"It’s about learning to adapt to life with Parkinson’s by applying a healthy dose of positivity."

The project includes a 52 pack of positivity booster cards. Why did you decide to make a physical product in addition to online and social media? 

The core of the idea is that Parkylife can give Parky people a boost if they feel low or isolated. When Parky’s getting you down, we’re here to pick to pick you up. And having a tangible, tactile pack of positivity sitting on the coffee table or on the worktop or by the bed makes the whole idea even more accessible. It’s a permanent and physical reminder that you’re not alone and there are plenty of people in the same boat as you. And we just loved the idea that if you are having an off day you can instantly dive in and choose a card to give you a lift. It’s a bit like having a support buddy at your side at all times.

 

Who can get involved in this project and how do you want people to get involved?

We want Parkylife to grow. We want it to become the go-to place for all people with Parkinson’s people to feel inspired, uplifted, meet new people and share their own stories and tips. We’d love anyone with Parkinson’s, and also caregivers and HCPs to visit, contact us, and share their insights and stories, so that we can keep adding to our Perks, Hacks, Stories and Peeps, making this platform a rich  and extremely valuable hub of Parky positivity.

 

What do you hope comes from the conversation you’re starting on social media around Parkinson’s?

Ultimately, we want to reach every single person living with Parkinson’s and help them overcome symptoms, feel less isolated, and ultimately feel happier.  But as well as being a support for Parky people, our ambition is to change perceptions of the disease. We want to shake off those stigmas, banish all pictures of old men in cardigans and help the world see that there’s more to Parkinson’s than just a shaky old person with wobbly hands.

 

How do you see the future for people with Parkinson’s evolving?

Quite simply we hope the future can evolve into a happier place for anyone diagnosed. Yes, it’s a serious neurological condition and this isn’t about dismissing or belittling the seriousness of the disease. As many Parky Peeps have told us, a diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of life and there’s still plenty to smile about. Which, for people who are lacking dopamine, surely only be a good thing.

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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