To bring attention to the plight of teens touched by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America (MTPA) is calling for artistic submissions from young people who have a family member with the disease.
Called ALSO US, the new initiative is open to U.S. teenagers and young adults ages 12 to 25. The deadline for both visual and written entries is Jan. 22. Some submissions will be featured on the program’s website and MTPA’s social media outlets. Go here for guidelines and to submit.
The initiative centers around the awareness that young people whose family is affected by ALS can also experience considerable distress. According to the ALS Association (ALSA), more than 5,000 people are diagnosed with the disorder annually. Some 60 percent of patients are men.
“When people consider the role of caregivers, they commonly think of a spouse or other adult,” Atsushi Fujimoto, MTPA president, said in a news release.
“However, when a person is diagnosed with ALS, they often have children, who may be quite involved in caring for the family member. This is why we are working to raise awareness about the impact of ALS on the whole family and want to provide teens a platform to express what they are going through.”
ALSO US participants may submit original art, apply to work with an expert, or both. Creative experts include a filmmaker, photographer, visual artist and poet. Those interested in receiving professional guidance must submit a short essay explaining their wish. Examples of art forms for submission include videography, painting, and poetry.
Not only can submissions provide an emotional outlet, but they may also help other teens coping with this disease, experts said.
“Teens who have a family member affected by ALS face a unique set of challenges as they take on many adult caregiving responsibilities while witnessing someone they love battling a horrific disease,” said Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, president and founder, Hope Loves Company, a non-profit devoted to supporting young people affected by ALS.
“It’s important to listen to the concerns and feelings of young adults and let them know they’re not alone,” O’Donnell-Ames said. “It’s important to me to support these teens emotionally and to encourage positive outlets by encouraging them to express thoughts and feelings through art.”
MTPA, a Jersey City, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, is a division of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma of Doshomachi, Osaka, Japan.