MS – Stands for Mighty Strong - Outward Bound

MS – Stands for Mighty Strong


Twelve years ago Southland's Julia Colhoun was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but she has not let that stand in the way of taking on various challenges.

Julia Colhoun was 20 when she received a life-changing phone call.

While studying in Dunedin to become a teacher, she struggled to stay awake in class. The energy seemed to have been zapped out of her.  After some tests her doctor delivered a message which initially prompted anger. 

Julia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease which attacks the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis had affected both sides of her family but skipped a generation before she developed the disease.

It's a condition which many simply shorten to MS, but for Julia, MS stands for something else.

“Mighty strong,'' is her own version of the acronym and it's an attitude she leads her life by.

Twelve years on from the diagnosis, Julia strives to live a life fueled by positivity and a can-do attitude to ensure she gets through the tough times.

You can't let life get the better of you, you have to challenge yourself.

And that’s why she chose Outward Bound - an adventure, which many thought she was "nuts" for taking on. 

Now aged 32, Julia had attended Outward Bound during her school days, but when she returned for a second time there was an obvious difference. 

Julia took part in the 8 day Activate course which is an adapted course for students with physical disabilities.

The determined Southlander admitted she cried quite a bit during the week which was shared with eight other students who had their own differing battles.

The tears flowed when Ms Colhoun felt frustrated and ready to give in. But tears of joy also flowed when she completed an activity.


Julia Colhoun - Photo: Logan Savory


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Julia in Anakiwa

“Everyone was amazing, everyone was so supportive,'' she said about the others in the group and the various instructors.

“I've made life-long friends from it. Everyone should do it, it is great."

Ms Colhoun said bits of the course had stuck with her, including her morning routine.

The day would start with a cold dip in the sea. She believed it was a good way to wake up and her instructor suggested she replicate it at home in the morning by jumping in the shower before it had warmed up. She now swears by the cold zap as part of her morning routine.

The Outward Bound experience came about when Rachel Hucklebridge from the Southland MS Society spotted a scholarship opportunity. The Southland MS Society helps people who are living with the disease.

Ms Hucklebridge got on the phone and without any hesitation Ms Colhoun put her name forward to head to Outward Bound. Ms Hucklebridge said it was great such opportunities were available, but added she was more inspired by the fact Ms Colhoun was prepared to take on the challenge.


For Ages 18+

Duration 8 days

Activate is an 8 day course for those aged 18+ with a physical disability.

See Course details and make a booking