Taking Parkinson’s education to the farmers market: educating under-served communities

Taking Parkinson’s education to the farmers market: educating under-served communities

Elizabeth Delaney, LMSW, Clinical Social Worker (left) and Lynda Nwabuobi, MD, Movement Disorders Fellow (right) from the Columbia University Movement Disorders Center pictured here with APDA English and Spanish materials at a GrowNYC Greenmarket in Washington Heights, New York.

Dr. Lynda Nwabuobi, Movement Disorder Fellow at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, attended APDA’s Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Research Conference in May and was inspired. Dr. Nwabuobi  had just spent the day learning about health care disparities in PD care, low levels of clinical trial recruitment among under-represented populations and unexplored biologic differences between varying PD populations.  “I was in the parking lot just after the conference ended. I turned to my mentor, Dr. Hiral Shah, who had just attended the conference too. I said ‘We have to do something!’” stated Nwabuobi. “I thought that a great way to start closing the gaps that I had just learned about was to increase awareness and understanding of PD in under-represented communities. Increasing awareness of PD in the community can bring people to seek out medical care earlier, which is the first step in getting appropriate treatment as well as joining clinical trials”.

Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center is located in Washington Heights, a predominantly Hispanic community in upper Manhattan. Dr. Nwabuobi had previously noticed a farmer’s market taking place close to her medical office. “I thought that a farmer’s market would be a great place to engage with members of the local community and bring information to them about PD.” She contacted the organizers of Grow NYC Greenmarkets and found out how to participate. She reached out to APDA for help with logistics and educational materials, especially APDA’s educational materials in Spanish.

APDA has recently produced these booklets and pamphlets in Spanish, some which provide a helpful overview of PD, and others which present a deeper discussion of particular symptoms. They are written with a native speaker’s grasp of the language and can be downloaded for free here. Print copies can be ordered for free as well.  These materials are part of APDA’s strategic efforts to ensure that our programs, services and research are tailored to reach all people impacted by PD, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic conditions and geography.

Dr. Nwabuobi and her team now regularly staff a PD information table at the farmer’s market, talking to those who stop by about the disease and handing out materials. Those who visit the table are encouraged to fill out an anonymous survey which records the basic demographics of those interested in the information provided.

Dr. Nwabuobi adds “We hope to not only provide information to the community about PD, but we would like to learn about what people know and don’t know about the disease. This can further our efforts to eliminate disparities in clinical care in this community.”