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Image of Andre posing next to his art in the tunnels below RHC beside the quote ""When I'm drawing, and I'm just in my own zone. Since I have Parkinson's I use art as a form medication, you know what I mean...I'll play some nice peaceful relaxing music. It's quite nice, I enjoy it."

One day at Riverview Health Centre, resident Andre took a broom and started happily sweeping the road leading up to the Centre. A security guard then came and told him there is already a team that does that.

So Andre said, alright, and went on his way.

The next day, Andre looked around for a security guard. Not seeing one, he went out to the lobby and looked around again. Seeing no one, Andre grabbed a broom and kept sweeping.

Soon afterwards, Kathleen Klaasen, CEO for Riverview Health Centre, approached him and introduced herself.

“She said, why do you do that,” says Andre. “I said well, why not, because this is my home, and I like to have a nice clean home.” Kathleen made the arrangements, and now Andre regularly sweeps the front road.

Andre, who has Parkinson’s Disease, moved to Riverview for assisted living almost a year ago. He has been making a splash ever since he arrived – although the disease challenges him, he is always keeping active and looking for ways to make Riverview more home-like for all.

When asked how he manages the symptoms of the disease, Andre says it’s medication and time – and a form of therapy for him is creating art. He creates colourful geometric drawings with markers and a stencil-like tool.

Art has been a hobby of Andre’s for seven years now. With all his projects, he has no plan, he says – he just gets an idea and does it.

“It’s pretty peaceful,” says Andre, “when I’m drawing, and I’m just in my own zone. Since I have Parkinson’s I use that as a form of medication, you know what I mean… I’ll play some nice peaceful relaxing music. It’s quite nice, I enjoy it.”

Not only is Andre proactive about his own health – he also spends his time improving the lives of others at RHC. It was his idea to donate some of his art to put up in the tunnels that connect the RHC buildings. There are six pieces up now, with six more to come.

When people ask him why he doesn’t sell his art, Andre shrugs and says, “What do I sell it for? What’s it worth? I tell them, well, I’d rather give it to whom it brings joy in their heart, and that’s worth a lot more than money in my pocket.”

When Andre first arrived and saw there was no support group for those with the disease, he spoke with the manager, Jacqueline Reimer, who contacted Parkinson’s Canada. Andre passed the test to become a facilitator, and now there’s a group that meets at RHC the second Monday of every month to share their experiences.

“People keep showing up, so they must like it,” says Andre.

Andre has brought so many ideas to the Centre, and they keep coming – it was also his idea to get new outdoor furniture. Through support from donors to the Foundation, the goal is to have the new furniture in place in June.

Andre has made Riverview his home. “I try and do as much as I can because they say, this is your home. So, I’m trying to make my home as comfortable as it can be.”

What’s his favourite part of Riverview? “I don’t have a favourite aspect,” he says. “It’s just the whole place itself. If you want to make friends, you can make friends, but if you don’t, there’s a place that you can always go where you can be by yourself.”