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Support group recognized for dedication
Nellie Allen and Doug Martens weren’t looking for recognition when they decided to work with the Parkinson Society of Manitoba, but it did manage to find them.
In April, Allen and Martens were presented with Mayor’s 2012 Volunteer Service Award for Health in recognition of their work as volunteer leaders with the Movers and Shakers Support Group.
The group was formed in 1995 to offer support to people living with Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease that currently effects 6,000 Manitobans.
The group meets on the last Tuesday of the month from September to November and from March to May at North Kildonan-based McIvor Avenue Mennonite Brethren Church at 200 McIvor Ave.
Martens, who was diagnosed with Parkinson eight years ago, said when he first joined the group there wasn’t a lot of other support options available, but the Shakers gave him what he needed.
"It’s a great resource for those dealing with Parkinson’s, and their caregivers," the North Kildonan resident said.
In addition to the monthly support group, the Movers and Shakers also started exercise programs for people with Parkinson’s.
Exercise programming is offered on Mondays at McIvor Avenue Mennonite Brethren Church, at Central Church of Christ located in St. Boniface on Thursdays, and at Abundant Life Church in Transcona on Wednesdays.
The sessions take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m. from September to June.
Allen, whose husband battled Parkinson’s before his death last year, said the group provides a place where those dealing with Parkinson’s and their caregivers can receive support and feel safe.
"People had the time and patience for him and he enjoyed it," said Allen, a North Kildonan resident who has been involved since 1995.
"Even though he passed away he always encouraged me to stay on and continue to help other people."
Howard Koks, chief executive officer of the Parkinson Society Manitoba, said it’s important for people dealing with Parkinson’s to understand they’re not alone.
"It’s great that people would step up to take part in this group, and offer this to the public," he said.
Allen said she hopes the award will help create more awareness of the disease.
"We want recognition for Parkinson’s and for people to know we’re there to help them," she said.
Even though Martens and Allen were presented with the award, they were quick to share the accolades.
"Nellie and I accepted the award, but the leadership of the Movers and Shakers includes seven of us that look after the various activities," Martens said.
For more information on the Movers and Shakers contact Martens at 667-0589, Allen at 661-1082, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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