Vall d'Hebron initiates a citizen science project with adolescents and Parkinson's patients

This initiative is part of a pioneering study that seeks to assess how the relationship between different age groups can influence the quality of life and mental health of patients.

10/04/2024

Improve the quality of life and mental health of people affected by Parkinson's disease and, at the same time, promote empathy, knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases and scientific vocations among adolescents. This is the objective of a citizen science project to promote intergenerational relationships, which is currently underway by the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) in the framework of the Caixa d'Eines program of the Pla de Barris of the Barcelona City Council and the Consortium of Networked Education, together with the science communication agency Eduscopi.

The project involves nine people affected by Parkinson's disease aged from 45 to 80 at different stages of the disease, three caregivers and 30 students in the 4th year of Secondary School at the Institut Escola Coves d'en Cimany in Barcelona. Previous experience has shown that social relationships and interactions can lead to an improvement in psychosocial well-being, as well as in physiological and physical processes of people affected by the disease. As Dr. Silvia Enriquez, neurologist and researcher of the Neurovascular Diseases group at VHIR, says, "with this project we want to know what are the benefits of interaction with young people for people affected by Parkinson's disease and their families and to highlight the importance of human connection in the treatment".

The meetings, four two-hour sessions held at the Biblioteca del Carmel - Juan Marsé and at the Institute, have been designed by the students taking into account the different needs of the patients. Among them, the participants take part in cooperative activities as diverse as making puzzles, origami, yoga, dance or magic performances. In addition to the group activities, an initial and final survey is carried out to assess the impact of the project on various aspects such as difficulties in daily activities, mood and personal perception of the disease. The results will be analysed by the students and the research team to draw conclusions and propose future improvements.

On the other hand, the initiative is also expected to bring benefits to the students. As this is a citizen science project with associated service learning, it is hoped to involve young people in research and promote their scientific culture, as well as contributing to the improvement of their environment, offering support to those who are affected. "It is essential for us to give young people a context about the reality of Parkinson's disease and to work to promote the understanding and social support necessary to contribute positively to society", concludes Dr. Ariadna Laguna, principal investigator of the Neurodegenerative Diseases group at VHIR.

The project is part of a program promoted by the Pla de Barris of Barcelona, the Institute of Culture and the Consortium of Education of Barcelona called Caixa d'Eines, which is committed to the introduction of artistic and scientific practices in the school curriculum, with the aim of reducing inequalities, articulating formal, non-formal and community education. In the high schools of the Carmel district, this program aims to make STEAM something experiential, close and accessible to students, broaden their horizons and offer new ways to learn and relate to their environment.

This project is part of the Singular Steam Axis of the School Institutes of the Carmel district promoted by the Pla de Barris, the Institute of Culture and the Consortium of Education of Barcelona through the program Caixa d'Eines of Culture and Education in Schools and is carried out in collaboration with Eduscopi.

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