Stanca Potra

Cluj-Napoca, May 2017


 

What’s your professional area activity?
I am a PR and Communications specialist with background in Advertising ( as a copywriter) and gaming industry ( as Creative Director)..

 

Is it link to your project in a way?
My project is in no way connected to what I do for a living, even though working in advertising is pretty useful for any kind of project I might have embarked on:)


What’s your project?
My project is a support and counseling group for people with multiple sclerosis, called Centrul SMile ( SMile Center). It is dedicated mostly to people from and around Cluj.

 

When did you start?
It all started soon after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), in 2013.

 

 

How was the idea born?
At the time I was diagnosed, the worst thing about finding out I had MS was the lack of support I could find around me. There was no MS community in my home town, no one I could talk to that would understand what I am going through and no one to guide me to a good source of information about my newly discovered life-long-disease. So I had to self-filter all the internet information I could find, give myself the advice I was longing for and just help myself grow strong enough to accept it.

And so, by making SMile Center, I wanted to help other people with MS, especially at their moment of diagnosis, to create a support system for them, so they don’t have to go through what I had to go thorough when I found out I had MS.

 

 

What changes do you want to create?
Often I feel like Multiple Sclerosis is a tabu subject in Romania. Many people living with MS are ashamed or afraid to admit it, mainly because of the scrutiny of others around them, or because of the repercussions it might have in their social lives or in their workplace.

So I want to change that. I want MS to stop being such an embarrassment for people that have to deal with it everyday and I want to educate people around those with MS about what MS really is, so they can behave accordingly.

I also want people to change the way they see the typical MS person. Often that person is associated with an old man living in a wheelchair, that has no job, no friends, no family and no hopes for future. And that is not true. Multiple Sclerosis is mostly diagnosed in women around 30, that need to keep an active life and be an active part of the community. Also, new treatments are now available and MS is a condition we just have to learn how to live with, how to accept it and how to control it, in order to lead a normal life. There are adjustments a person with MS has to make to their life, but the quality of life can still be pretty close to normal.

The aim of SMile Center is to expand this community dedicated to people living with MS, in order to empower as many people as possible and to sustain the support system that was created when this entire project started.

 

What’s next, what do expect? Any more details?
Moving forward, we want to grow the MS community here in Cluj, to empower more people to come forward and admit they have MS, to liberate themselves and to make the next step they need in order to regain control over their lives. We also want to reach out to the national and international community of people living with MS, to help raise the much needed awareness.

There are several projects we are working on, one of them being the first Conference for Young Romanians living with MS, a national event that will take place in Cluj Napoca, around the International MS Day (31st of May 2017).

Also, we are trying to bring Shift.ms ( an online international social network platform for people with MS) to Romania ( to have it available in Romanian). This project will most definitely benefit people with MS from all over the country, by enabling them to interact with over 10.000 other people with MS from all over the world, share their experiences, learn and find useful advice from others that have gone or are going through the same things.

 

 More information about Smile Center:

http://www.centrulsmile.ro/

https://www.facebook.com/CentrulSMile/?fref=ts

 

 

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