Toubkal 2011, the project

It is vital to provide support to patients as soon as possible after they have been diagnosed with MS. This support can take different forms depending on the extent of physical disability and the patient’s psychological needs faced with a chronic and life-changing disease.

A.o., BESEP, a not-for-profit organization, has recently demonstrated the extent to which an empathetic, sports-coaching approach can significantly develop the patient’s capabilities.

A patient who takes up a challenge and achieves his aim in a well adapted environment experiences huge satisfaction which has a positive impact on his or her disability both physically and psychologically. In keeping with this approach, the Toubkal project aims to honor the patients and their coach and to challenge the image of disability linked to MS. It also offers the possibility to the coach to provide specific physical and motivational training during the preceding months.

The idea is that 12 persons with MS and their coach will go on a hiking tour to the top of a highly symbolic mountain. Toubkal, the highest point of the Atlas mountain range in Morocco (4,167m), was chosen because it is fairly close to the range and fairly easy and safe to climb. The party will start trekking at lower levels, moving to higher slopes and then perhaps end with some mountain climbing with ropes and cramps in an area without cracks and falling boulders. This will take place in Spring when the region is covered with flowers and the temperature is pleasant. .

The lead climber is a very experienced man and has climbed Toubkal several times as well as many other more difficult mountains. The route will be chosen on the basis of safety. Each stage will be an end in itself, and mules will be available throughout. Local support will be provided by an organization with excellent references and well known to the lead climber.

A neurologist and a sports doctor will be supporting the group. We will take advantage of this project to make a documentary film (producer ZOOM) highlighting the patients (should they wish) and their achievements. Subsequently this film will be used to de-mystify and de-dramatise the disease on condition that patients are given efficient early onset support.

A more scientific approach is also foreseen. A psychological evaluation of the patients with respect to this challenge was also performed. A questionnaire was provided they will complete just before and after the climb. A reassessment and a data analysis will be done.

To all participants, Toubkal will surely mean the fulfilment of a dream. We hope that they can share it during the climbing and after their return.