Project description

A children’s board game designed to bring families together and provide a platform to open up conversation about Parkinson’s Disease.

The inspiration for undertaking this project was my late Granddad, Julian Stammers. Julian was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2001 and had Parkinson’s for 12 years.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain. It is recognised as having four cardinal motor signs: slowed movement (bradykinesia), rigidity, rest tremor and postural instability. 

Parkinson's most common non-motor symptom is anxiety. One of the core aims of Bee - a - Colony is to highlight the importance of recognising the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's. 

Bee - a - Colony all components

Bee - a - Colony is a children’s board game designed to bring families together and provide a platform to open up conversation about Parkinson’s Disease. The game is based upon a fable and the book included with the game details both the fable and a narrative of how the game can be used to educate children on Parkinson’s Disease. 

The fable tells the story of an anxious bumblebee, who leaves his colony and meets a series of animals who each highlight a Parkinson's motor symptom: the shaking snail, slow grasshopper and stiff caterpillar. Once the bumblebee sees how all of the animals treat each other with kindness, he goes back to his colony. Scroll down to read the fable in full.

Bee - a - Colony in play

The main game feature is the players ability to change the board by ‘changing the weather’ in the garden. This is done by spinning the board. The spinning of the board also reveals the anxious bumblebee, which players have to find to win. 

Players fly around the board collecting character cards, which represent three of the animals found in the story - the shaking snail, slow grasshopper and stiff caterpillar.

The game takes place in the garden in which the anxious bumblebee discovers these animals. 

Shaking Snail, Slow Grasshopper, Stiff Caterpillar

The physical board game is designed to be easy for someone with Parkinson’s to interact with. The spinner and spinning mechanism for the board consist of push handles, which the user can push to spin, rather than having to physically hold onto something, which would take more coordination. 

The playing pieces are also specifically moulded to be easy for someone with Parkinson’s to hold. They also contain magnets in the base and magnetise to the board. This means that the user can simply push the pieces along the surface of the board, rather than having to physically pick them up. 

Close up of game board
Close up of game board, showing spinning handle
Bee reveal
Single playing piece
All playing pieces, showing magnet in base
Spinner in use
Spinner tokens
Reference cards

The Bee - a - Colony story book, including the fable, can be read below. 

The story book can also be used as a colouring book. The pages which depict how the game can be used to start a conversation about Parkinson’s, consist of black and white line drawings. This encourages children to engage with these pages and highlights their importance, through interaction.

Bee - a - Colony children's book
Inside of children's book
Coloured page of children's book
Skills & Experience
  • CAD/CAM
  • Prototyping
  • C++ Programming
About Me

Hello, it's me. Ruth Elizabeth Buckley. 

I have always been fascinated by design, with a focus on physical products and making. I believe in creating for a cause to bring about positive social change, with the core value of empathy running through my work.

I love challenges and am ready to throw myself into anything that comes my way.

Ruth Elizabeth Buckley