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This article was published 8/9/2017 (287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Janice Horn’s earliest memories are of her creative side, so when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease she would have to find a way to keep expressing herself. The route she chose has benefited not only Horn, but also many other people living with Parkinson’s disease.
As a child, Horn drew on everything she could find.
"And all I remember from kindergarten was standing in front of easels and painting," Horn recalled.
It was while attending graphic design school 11 years ago that Horn was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She first noticed symptoms five years earlier, including tremors and hand weakness and cramping. It was after she began having trouble walking that Horn visited a second neurologist and received a proper diagnosis.
There were few adjustments in the first years following her diagnosis, mainly involving changes in her exercise routine.
"That was the biggest thing at first. Now the medications don’t work as well so I have to modify lots of things," Horn said. "You need something to hang on to or sit on. It’s a much more complicated life with Parkinson’s, it’s more like being 90 than my actual age."
Horn said she became depressed after she was first diagnosed, her only outlet being an old standby.
"I actually did more drawing and painting in the first year after I was diagnosed than in any year of my life," Horn said. "It was the only way I could get any kind of relief."
Horn thought if art could help her it could help others too, so she approached the Parkinson Canada office in Winnipeg with the idea for the Shake it Up Creative Arts Group.
"They embraced the idea," Horn said. "They’ve helped financially, provided us with space and have recruited people."
Don’t worry if you have little art experience, Horn said. Most attendees do not.
"What I tell them is it doesn’t have to be museum quality or art quality. It just needs to be something you enjoy doing. It’s the process, not the outcome.
"Art is really good because you can do it without having to move a lot. With art you can do small movements and still accomplish something.
Simply being around people who understand what you are going through is a valuable experience, Horn added.
"It’s also very social. With Parkinson’s lots of times you isolate yourself. You start moving around weirdly and become uncomfortable in social situations."
One woman told Horn she was the first person she met with Parkinson’s disease after being diagnosed three years earlier.
"You feel safe when you’re here," Horn said.
The Shake it Up Creative Arts Group meets on the second Thursday and Saturday of each month from 9:30-11 at the Parkinson Canada Winnipeg office, 7-414 Westmount Dr. Those interested in attending should call the office at 204-786-2637, leave their contact information and expect a call from Horn.
Horn invites everyone to attend Parkinson SuperWalk 2017 on Sat., Sept. 9 at the University of Manitoba’s Max Bell Centre Field House. For more information visit www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca.
Community journalist — The Herald
Tony Zerucha is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at tony.zerucha@canstarnewscom Call him at 204-697-7112