Elizabeth Kiss was described as ‘overcoming so much to be where she is today’.
Her film, focusing on Elizabeth and her mum, tells her story from the day of Elizabeth’s stroke and her experience over the next few years.
Elizabeth was 13 when a stroke left her paralysed down one side of her body. She had an operation and learnt to walk again while overcoming both mental and physical challenges during her recovery. She also raised awareness of childhood stroke at the same time.
In the film made for the Children and Young People's Courage Award Elizabeth remembers how she was slurring and couldn’t see very well after the stroke.
Elizabeth said: “The stroke came as a total shock to everyone, I was a normal healthy kid. We never thought that I could have had a stroke so young. Even when I arrived at hospital I wasn’t originally treated for stroke because they thought I was having a migraine.”
Back at home
Elizabeth said: “There was a point when I found it really hard and I did lose friends. With a lot of people my age there is a view that it is not cool to be different, and I am different.
“For a long time after my stroke I suffered with severe anxiety; social situations were overwhelming and I constantly worried that I would say the wrong thing. I didn’t feel confident about going out, so I stopped. That meant I didn’t get invited out and my social scene became really small. It was a low point, I was depressed and I blamed myself.”
Life started to change when Elizabeth started helping out a Brownie pack and ‘she just felt like she belonged somewhere’. She also went to the Cambridge Centre for Paediatric Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.
Elizabeth is now learning to drive, going to college and works at her local pub.
Childhood stroke real stories and resources
Another film showing a teenager’s journey after childhood stroke is that of last year’s winner, Neil Ferguson. Neil’s film shows life after his stroke at age 13 with Neil and his parents discussing the day of the stroke, learning to speak and walk, missing school and getting back into swimming and other sports.
The Stroke Association has many resources on childhood stroke – these include guides for parents, teachers and films for children.