The Young Ones: Bringing Digesting Science to young carers

#DigestingScience #Youngcarers #MS #multiplesclerosis

Digesting Science is an event where 6-12 year olds engage in fun activities, to learn more about MS. It’s aimed at children who have a parent (or parents, or carers) with MS. Over half a day, families complete games and challenges to learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, treatments and science behind the condition. The activities were created by designer Alison Thomson and the Barts MS team. It was made into a kit and the event format was developed with the expert help of mum, drama teacher and MSer Harriet Smith. The kits have since travelled the country and are soon to travel the globe!

Thus far, events have been put on by a local MS charity branch or part of a health service team (MS nurses or other health workers). But excitingly, we have recently started to work with young carers charities.

It’s hard to get an accurate figure of how many young carers there are in the UK. Carers Trust say they “know there are 170,000 young carers in England and Wales” but that a BBC estimate (done seven years ago in 2010) put the number at 700,000. How many of these care for a parent with MS? We don’t know. But after being approached by a young carers charity in Surrey to do an event, we sent an email to young carers charities nationwide, through the Children’s Society’s Include project. The response has been really positive already, and our first Digesting Science events for young carers have been taking place across Surrey.

It’s exciting because it’s a new direction for the project, but also because we feel we have found a way to help families who are perhaps not accessing as much support as they need from their health service.

If you’re interested in have a Digesting Science event in your area then please contact and we can support you all the way! We are on Twitter (@DigestingSci), Facebook (including a closed group called Digesting Science Families), and will shortly be launching a newsletter, that you can subscribe to, with Plain English research news, tips and information relevant to families affected by MS and those who support them.


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