World MS Day, May 30, Goes On … But Online
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to participate in World MS Day 2020 on May 30, set aside to raise awareness about the neurodegenerative disorder that affects more than 2.3 million people globally.
Organized by the MS International Federation (MSIF), the event brings together the global multiple sclerosis (MS) community to share stories, educate, raise funds, and encourage each other. Each campaign is developed in collaboration with an international group of member representatives; current ones are from the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Argentina, Spain, Greece, Australia, India, and Egypt.
The campaign theme through 2022 is “connections,” as in self-connection, building community connection, and connections to quality care. The tagline is “I Connect, We Connect,” and the campaign hashtag, to be used with campaign social media postings, is #MSConnections.
In part, the focus on community connections addresses social barriers that often leave MS patients feeling lonely and socially isolated, conditions that may be exacerbated by the pandemic, which has forced so many people indoors.
“It’s an opportunity to advocate for better services, celebrate support networks, and champion self-care,“ the MSIF states on its World MS Day webpage.
World MS Day activities have taken place throughout May and will continue into early June. MSIF suggestions include: organizing a virtual event or fundraiser; getting World MS Day covered in local and national news; and contacting lawmakers about the importance of quality MS care.
MSIF has created a toolkit available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic that supporters can use when adapting in-person activities to digital because of COVID-19 restrictions. The toolkit includes an event overview called “Campaign Essentials,” posters, an email signature, headers, an MS Connections hashtag, shareable social media tiles, and World MS Day logos. It also includes a 19-page MS Connections Handbook, which introduces everything supporters need, in detail, for a successful World MS Day.
Supporters also are encouraged to share with the global community their stories about MS. Submissions will be featured on the MSIF social media wall, along with all posts about World MS Day. And, through the World MS Day Map, participants may share activities and personal narratives, celebrate news coverage success, or find an MS resource. Submissions may be in any language.
Inspired by a sign language symbol for “together,” the MS Heart is a symbol of solidarity with everyone affected by MS. The MSIF is asking each supporter to connect their hands in a way that symbolizes the heart, take a photo, and share it on the map.
World MS Day supporters also are invited to participate in the May 50K virtual fitness and fundraising challenge by walking or running 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) locally by themselves or as part of a virtual team, anytime in May. So far, more than $5 million has been raised for MS research and support programs. Go here to register or for more information.
To celebrate the #MSConnections campaign, the global community also is welcome to participate in “Tune in for MS,” a May 30 livestream event. The MSIF will present performances and messages from some community members, and there will be a performance by the global MS choir. The Facebook and YouTube event is 2 p.m. CET (Central European Time zone).
“Even in the context of COVID-19, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and come together virtually,” the MSIF states.
Visit this site for updates from around the world about World MS Day events.