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Two generations on the big screen

Living with Usher and at the same time wanting to be a role model for others

On the International Usher Awareness Day 2021, the documentary Stilte in de Nacht [Silence in the night] had its premiere on television and after this it was shown through YouTube. This made the documentary accessible for the general public.
Lisanne van Spronsen and Milou op ten Berg, the makers of this documentary, followed Joyce de Ruiter and Nikki de Punder with their cameras for a few months.
Two generations with Usher. Both strong women who hold a positive view of life, who know what they want and who act as role models for their own generations as well. 

Sandra Vijverberg talked with both ladies to hear how they experienced their participation in this documentary.

More than a school project 
Joyce was in particular positively surprised by the professional way of working and passion of Lisanne and Milou and that it turned out to be a lot more than just a ‘school project’. Professional photos were made for the promotion and film poster and Lisanne and Milou started a crowd funding action, which enabled them to make a very nice donation to the Stichting Ushersyndroom (Dutch Usher Syndrome Foundation). The ladies did not limit themselves to making the documentary, but they also made various podcasts for Stilte in de Nacht.
As speaker and author, Joyce is used to sharing her story on stage and in her book. Accepting the presence of the camera near her made her feel vulnerable, but at the same time it was a nice thing to do.
Nikki really liked being part of it. She tells us that she does not talk a lot about Usher and about what it means to her. However, especially the approach of Lisanne and Milou made things feel very safe. “Because they managed to make me feel so comfortable, I dared to honestly answer all questions.”

On the big screen 
The question of how they felt about seeing themselves on the big screen and later on television makes Joyce laugh out loud. Terrible!”, she laughs. It really is very strange to realise that a lot of people who are completely unknown to you know about you.” Nikki thought it was very special. “It always is strange to look at yourself, in particular on a film screen of 50×25 metres!” The documentary had already been shown to the ladies when it was nearly finished, later at  the premiere in the theatre and then again recently on television. Nikki continues: “We watched the television premiere together at the home of Lisanne’s parents. My parents had also come, Joyce was present with her family and, of course, Milou was there as well. This made it feel like a kind of reunion.”

Role model for fellow-sufferers 
The ladies received really a lot of reactions to the documentary. Very nice and positive reactions, but Joyce also received a reaction from someone who has a person suffering from RP in her environment. Joyce: “She told me that his person has so much problems with this, that he or she finds it unbearable to live with the diagnosis. This was really heavy. On the other hand, it confirmed to me how important it is to have role models in fellow-sufferers. Role models who can inspire you, who can support you. Persons who inspire me personally give me a lot of strength every day again. Hopefully Nikki and I can also be that for our fellow-sufferers. To me understanding this is the best thing the documentary has brought me.”

In the spotlights 
Joyce tells us that, despite the fact that this also is a part of her work, it sometimes is quite difficult for her to always put herself in the spotlights again.
Trying to find the spotlights for the Usher Syndrome Foundation is something she does for the good cause: It gives me the confirmation and the strength that we, people suffering from Usher, have to keep shouting from the rooftops what the impact is of this disease and that more money is needed for treatment.”

Inspiring for others
Nikki received a lot of reactions through Insta from friends as well as from people unknown to her. Besides, the documentary resulted in a nice article about her in the newspaper (insert link). This article led to an invitation for the talk show ‘M’ of Margriet van de Linden (insert link) and she also visited Anky van Grunsven. This has resulted in a steady friendship.” She continues: “this is again one of the best things that participating in this documentary has brought me. Apart from this, a lot of people will by now understand why I sometimes cannot follow things, do not hear well or why I sometimes am a bit careful in the dark, for instance. The very best thing is, however, that there are people telling me that I inspire them. This never was my intention, but it certainly is very nice to hear.”

Silence in the night (Stilte in de Nacht)
The documentary Stilte in de Nacht can be watched with Dutch and English subtitling

Spanish film festival 
By now, it has become known that Stilte in de Nacht has been selected for the Spanish film festival Certamen Raras.” This special film festival is about rare diseases and health.

The jury will announce the best documentary on 15 November 2021. Also an audience prize will be presented for which can be voted from the Netherlands as well. Voting for Stilte in de Nacht can be done through via the button below. You can vote for Silence in the night via the button below.

Read also:
Colour me blind

Colour me blind – Usher Awareness Day 2021

Singer-songwriter Jasper Steverlinck sings about Usher syndrome

Singer-songwriter Jasper Steverlinck

Flemish singer-songwriter Jasper Steverlinck released a song in 2018 that he wrote in response to a friend’s personal story. Her son had been diagnosed with Usher syndrome and is slowly becoming deaf and blind. This story grabbed Jasper Steverlinck so much that he wrote the song ‘Colour me blind’. The words ‘Cannot change it / It’s inevitable’ suddenly takes on a completely different meaning.

The song ‘Colour me blind’ was written for Jackson and Jasper Steverlinck added the sensitive song to his hit album “Night Prayers”. ‘Colour me blind’ is tailor-made for everyone who is suffering from Usher Syndrome. The melody enchants and the lyrics will take everyone’s breath away.

We think ‘Colour me blind’ is a beautiful song for Usher Awareness Day 2021!

Usher Awareness Day
Every year on the third Saturday of September, we celebrate ‘Global Usher Awareness Day. On this day, which falls on the same day as the autumn equinox, the sun is directly above the equator and the day and the night have the same length. Following the autumn equinox, there will be less light every day; days get shorter and nights get longer.

The autumn equinox is the ultimate metaphor for the Usher Syndrome, because this experience of seeing increasingly less light is an irreversible process for people suffering from Usher Syndrome. The light-sensitive eye cells that have died in the eyes and the cilia in the ears will never come back.
Being diagnosed for Usher Syndrome is a frightening experience.
Therefore we want to make Usher Syndrome known around the world and so create a better understanding of the impact of getting both deaf and blind. Besides, everyone in the world must know that people suffering from Usher Syndrome are remarkably driven and well-motivated to keep participating in society. 

To raise awareness for the most common genetic cause of deaf blindness, we are raising awareness more than ever.
This year the Global Usher Awareness Day falls on September 18th and in the run-up to this day, we will daily share the song ‘Colour me blind’.

*Jackson is Caroline’s son: Ushermom / Colour me blind
Colour Me Blind · Jasper Steverlinck Night Prayer ℗ 2018 Sony Music Entertainment Belgium NV/SA

LYRICS: COLOUR ME BLIND

I’m holding on but now those days are gone
They seem like half forgotten dreams
Where everything was as white as snow
Now the black is in everything

We cannot change it
It is inevitable
But how much longer will it take?
Before we slide into the great unknown
Oh how I know your heart will break

Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know
Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know

My hands are my ears
My fingers are my eyes
I’ll let my memories be my guide
When I fall into the great unknown
I’ll have you here by my side

Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know
Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know

Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know
Colour me blind colour me blind
I don’t think I want to know

But I know, I know, I know

I’m holding on but now those days are gone
They seem like half forgotten dreams
Where everything was as white as snow
Now the black is in everything


GLOBAL USHER AWARENESS DAY
Saturday September 18th 2021

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