AN AWARENESS week at Barrow Hills School in Witley for pupils to learn more about Parkinson’s was mounted by the head’s wife, Niki Oldroyd, who was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 25 in 1992.
Mrs Oldroyd said: “My particular challenges with Parkinson’s are in initiating movement – usually walking – and freezing, where my brain is saying go but my legs are saying no.
“This causes lack of balance, lack of co-ordination, and often falls. I am very aware the children see this when I am around the school and may be confused and worried.”
The awareness week was supported by the local branch of Parkinson’s UK and started with a Monday assembly led by Mrs Oldroyd and Parkinson’s UK volunteer speaker Witley resident Valerie Box.
Pupils attended interactive sessions designed to give them an understanding of the main symptoms – slowness, stiffness and tremor – to give them a glimpse into the lives of the 145,000 nationally who have the disease, of whom 1.2 per cent are diagnosed under the age of 50.
The week culminated with a ‘Use Your Head for Parkinson’s’ event, when children and teachers donated £2 and raised more than £500 by wearing something silly.
Phillip Oldroyd added: “The week was a great success. Our children learnt about Parkinson’s at a level suited to their age, understood the key symptoms and the best way to help, while also having a fantastic day of fundraising fun. ”
More events are planned, including talks on physical and mental wellbeing, for current parents and the community.