First Bristol Fulfils Girls’ Wishes to Learn How to Drive a Bus
- Learning to drive a bus part of monthly challenge to raise awareness for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
First Bristol came to the assistance earlier in the week when three girls approached the company with a request to learn how to drive a bus. The request was part of a monthly ‘challenge’ Rhiannon Howe (19), Abbi Cooper (18) and Mary Meilton (20) set themselves to raise awareness about and funds for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS.
Organiser Mary Meilton, explained: "Since January we have been taking a different challenge each month to raise awareness for EDS. The bus driving lesson was the best one so far. It was incredibly fun learning how to drive such a big vehicle, and taking one of the largest vehicles on the public roads through the wash facility was pretty cool."
The three girls had an ulterior motive by choosing how to drive a bus, Mary explained: "Public transport can be a big deal for people with EDS, because it is not a condition that's visible, so passengers won't give up their seat especially when you're young, and drivers may not understand why people with EDS may take longer to get to a seat. So it gave us an opportunity to talk to the trainers who teach future drivers about the condition."
James Freeman, Managing Director for First Bristol said: "It was wonderful to be able to contribute to these enterprising young girls’ monthly challenge of doing something remarkable every month. They are an inspiration and it’s an important reminder that there are many more disabilities that are invisible than that are visible. Meeting people with conditions you can’t see or would not have heard about is an important part of our role as a bus operator, because we carry people with all abilities."
EDS is a group of genetic conditions which affect connective tissue. There are 13 different types of EDS but the most common (and type Mary has) is Hypermobile EDS. Symptoms of EDS include joint hypermobility and instability, being prone to dislocating and spraining joints, problems with skin making it easy to tear and scar, fatigue, issues with regulating blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, digestion problems, and a great deal of pain.
There is currently no cure for EDS and it is poorly understood by most health professionals. Diagnosis can often take a long time and patients are often made to think that they are making their symptoms up. It is an area that needs more research to increase understanding and treatment options.
Mary said: "We had the most fantastic day and were so well treated by everyone we met. We would like to say a particular thank you to our trainers, Lyndsey and Steve, who were so patient and lovely when teaching us. We had so much fun!"
Mary’s fundraising page is www.justgiving.com/fundraising/edschallenges2018