“I hope this campaign will bring the global Parkinson’s disease community together”


Author: Sophie ParrottPublished: 20 July 2023

Parkinson's LifePrep: Parkinson's LifeCook: Parkinson's LifeServes:

A photo of the Walking Football Project

Tania Park, CEO of Parkinson’s Africa, talks about launching the ‘23 in 23’ awareness initiative to support people in the community – and the challenges she has set out to complete this year

Please tell us about yourself and your involvement in the Parkinson’s community.

I joined Parkinson’s Africa as CEO in October 2022. I am honoured and humbled to lead such an exceptional organisation, which was created with the specific need, passion and goal to have a positive impact on the lives of African people affected by Parkinson’s.

Although we are a small organisation, we have big ambitions and aspirations. I am excited that we have a clear grasp of the need as well as the priority order in which we should work to achieve our main strategic priorities.

There will be challenges ahead, but ideally, we can build sustainable paths to support our partners in the design, development and implementation of programmes that have a long-term impact on people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones.

In my spare time, I enjoy being outdoors, climbing, biking, running and paddle boarding as well as spending time with friends and family. I use my passion for physical activity to network, connect with others and encourage people to raise money for charitable causes.

Parkinson's Africa founder Omotola Thomas with two others at a Parkinson's UK event.

Parkinson’s Africa founder Omotola Thomas speaking at a Parkinson’s UK event.

 Can you tell us about the ‘23 in 23’ campaign and what it aims to achieve?

23 in 23’ is an awareness and fundraising campaign launched by Parkinson’s Africa. It seeks to encourage the global community to undertake a challenge or fun activity that will have a positive impact on the lives of those affected by the condition and help to raise money for Parkinson’s Africa or other Parkinson’s-related charities.

The activities could include baking and selling cakes, taking part in a personal challenge, speaking about Parkinson’s at a school, organising an awareness event or simply talking about the condition with others to raise awareness.

The idea with this campaign is for people to feel empowered to raise money for our activities and challenges while also engaging with larger groups and broadening their reach.

What is your involvement in the campaign?

I created the campaign along with the fundraising tool, but I’m also responsible for engaging key stakeholders – such as funders, partner organisations, people and companies – and marketing the campaign. I have also set myself the personal goal of self-funding and completing 23 challenges while raising 10% of the overall fundraising objective.

I hope I can persuade other key individuals and supporters to join me in mobilising the community and turning this fundraising drive into an ongoing campaign that will provide a sustainable income for our programmes in the coming years.

Please share some examples of the challenges that you aim to tackle as part of the 23 challenges in 2023.

I have completed a number of exciting challenges this year.

The highlights include climbing parts of the Rila mountain range in Bulgaria, which was a tough but amazing experience.

I also participated in the Cure Parkinson’s Cup, a walking football tournament, in March of this year – joining a team named Parkysaurus FC. We won the cup, which was an emotional occasion for me.

After being inspired by this experience, Parkinson’s Africa founder Omotola Thomas and I organised a walking football tournament for Parkinson’s awareness – alongside delivery partners including the Adewunmi Desalu Parkinson’s Foundation (ADPF). Around 300 people took part in this campaign, which was fun and helped us to stay active.

I gave up sugar for a month while trying to train for physical tasks and maintain my energy levels. While it was difficult, it was a helpful conversation starter about why I was doing some of these challenges.

Finally, I summited Mount Toubkal, which is the highest peak in North Africa. Ahead of this challenge, I knew it would be a huge push for me both physically and mentally and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after having had two hips reconstructed and a knee injury. I also knew it would be an emotional journey because every step would remind me of why I was doing it and help me to not give up.

A photo of Tania Park and three others hiking on a path.

Tania challenged herself to summit Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Photo credit: Gerwyn Roberts.

Who else has pledged to take part in challenges as part of this campaign?

A few of my friends are participating in various challenges, but they have not publicly disclosed them. I am working incredibly hard to get partners and organisations to participate in this campaign, too.

We have, for example, joined forces with the World Parkinson’s Program to maximise fundraising efforts and raise money to provide free Parkinson’s medication. We are also arranging a fundraising dinner in November 2023 as part of the campaign.

How do you hope the campaign will benefit the Parkinson’s community going forward?

I hope the campaign will bring the global Parkinson’s community together, empower people to feel a sense of accomplishment and raise money that can be used to help Africans affected by Parkinson’s – whether it be used to provide free medication, support or care.

I also hope that people who live with or are affected by Parkinson’s will feel encouraged to take on challenges that are outside of their comfort zones. By striving to complete these challenges, the community may find that they enjoy them and want to do more of them – particularly if they think it is good for their physical or mental health.

Why are campaigns like this important in supporting the Parkinson’s community and raising awareness?

We shouldn’t underestimate the power of a simple chat about Parkinson’s and its impact. I was astounded to find that, among the seven people who came on a hike with me earlier this year, two people were directly impacted by Parkinson’s. By talking about it and hearing about their experiences, we were able to learn so much. It helped raise awareness about the condition among the rest of the group members.

To make a long-lasting and sustainable difference, funds play a crucial role – which is why campaigns like this are important. Of course, there is no better approach than raising money by completing a task or challenge that is positive and enjoyable.

Tania Park

Tania and another participant on the Mount Toubkal trek. Photo credit: Gerwyn Roberts.


Lead image: Participants of the Walking Football Parkinson’s Cup 2023, including Tania Park, organised by Parkinson’s Africa and Adewunmi Desalu Parkinson’s Disease, supported by Waka Football Nigeria team, and funded by the Vitol Foundation. Credit: Akala Akinwiunmi.

Want to support the ‘23 in 23’ campaign?

Tania outlines how people in the Parkinson’s community can take part:

  • “Create a fundraising page linked to the ‘23 in 23’ campaign, pick a challenge you’d like to complete and start raising funds. You can do so via Facebook donate or Justgiving.”
  • Donate to one of the events in the campaign or create a monthly recurring donation.”
  • “Share our campaign page – and tell your network about it.”
  • “Ask your employer to share the campaign among colleagues, match the funds or support your fundraiser.”
  • “Sponsor someone to take part in a challenge.”
  • “Talk to somebody about Parkinson’s, or share your own story and tell us about it so we can add you to our ‘23 in 23’ champions – and celebrate your achievements.”
  • “Email me at tania@parkinsonsafrica.org – I am happy to talk to anyone about the campaign!”

Read more:

“Anybody affected by Parkinson’s disease deserves equal access to care”

Increasing the profile of World Parkinson’s Day

Go Back

Share this story


Related articles

Parkinson's Africa CEO Tania Park


“Anybody affected by Parkinson’s disease deserves equal access to care”

Tania Park on supporting the community in Africa

Guy Deacon standing in Erg Chebbi, Morocco


“The best way of combatting Parkinson’s disease is to do something about it”

Why Colonel Guy Deacon is travelling across Africa to raise awareness

Six high-flyers have come together to launch the 'Movers and Shakers' podcast.


The ‘Movers and Shakers’ podcast: “We all have such different perspectives”

Six high-flyers have joined forces to raise Parkinson’s disease awareness