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Youngsters in Norwich raise profile of MS

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:32 02 July 2010

Jon Welch

It's often thought of as a condition afflicting older people and its symptoms can sometimes make sufferers look drunk. But young people with multiple sclerosis (MS) were out and about with video cameras in Norwich at the weekend as part of a project to increase public awareness of their condition and put

right some common misconceptions.

It's often thought of as a condition afflicting older people and its symptoms can sometimes make sufferers look drunk.

But young people with multiple sclerosis (MS) were

out and about with video cameras in Norwich at the weekend as part of a project

to increase public awareness of their condition and put

right some common misconceptions.

Sixteen people aged between 15 and 33 have been working on a short film entitled Shifting MS which they hope will explain the condition in more depth and show that MS need not prevent sufferers from living a full and active life and achieving their ambitions.

More than 100,000 people in the UK suffer from MS, the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults.

It is the result of damage to myelin, a protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibres of the central nervous system, and interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.

Young people from across

the country took part in the project over the weekend, interviewing each other as well as members of the public and neurologists for the 10-minute film.

They also filmed people with MS taking part in activities including volleyball, archery, swimming and badminton at the UEA Sportspark. Some of the participants have already been driven at high speed in a Lotus Elise around the company's test track at Hethel for the film.

Project manager Gloria Morris, who has MS, said: “The public perception is that you are pretty helpless and depend on others. A lot of people don't realise that MS is a young people's condition.

“Sometimes you appear drunk: your speech is slurred, you fall over and you have to hold on to things when you walk. The young people here have MS but they just get on with things.”

Kate Sanchez, 32, of Thorpe Marriott, near Norwich, was diagnosed with MS in November 2008, but said the symptoms had first manifested themselves two years earlier when she woke up one morning and found her left leg completely numb.

“I really don't think anyone knows anything about MS. A

lot of people confuse it with

ME because of the fatigue - you get so tired - but it's really

good to educate people,” she said.

“I remember being so isolated when I was diagnosed. Last

year was really tough for

me and my boyfriend, but now I'm thinking it's not going to stop me doing anything at

all.”

The film is being delivered by the MS Society Norwich and District branch and the shift.ms website with technical

support from BBC Voices and funding from Mediabox, a Department for Children, Schools and Families fund.

Its producer, Easton College student Donny Stubbings, 17, of Norwich, said: “I found out about MS through working

with Gloria. I really want

people to know that MS isn't going to stop you from doing things in your life. You've just got to find another way round it.”

The finished film will be shown in at Fusion in The Forum, the BBC big screen at Chapelfield and Cinema City, all in Norwich.

Ü Are you overcoming a disease or disability? Contact reporter Jon Welch on 01603 772476 or email jon.welch@archant.co.uk.

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