Selma Blair to Open Summit for Young Adults With Chronic, Rare Diseases

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by Mary Chapman |

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Selma Blair, the TV and film actor who is also a multiple sclerosis (MS) advocate, will headline next month’s second International Virtual Summit for young adults with chronic and rare disorders.

Hosted by Health Advocacy Summit (HAS), the Aug. 7-8 event will focus on empowerment, resources, and connection. The event is free for young adults with a chronic or rare disease, and $25 (plus handling fees) for the general public; go here to register.

In the U.S. alone, about 20 percent of young adults are thought to be living with chronic disorders such as MS.

Blair, known for her work in such films as “Legally Blonde,” “Mom and Dad,” and “Cruel Intentions,” was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018 and has since become an advocate, speaking openly about embracing her disease. Two years ago, she garnered widespread attention when she used a cane along the “red carpet” walk to an Academy Awards party.

She is the subject of the recent documentary, “Introducing, Selma Blair,” covering her life with MS, a progressive autoimmune disease. The film, which won the Special Jury Recognition for Exceptional Intimacy in Storytelling at its premier at this year’s SXSW Festival, is to be released this fall by Discovery+.

“Selma’s presence at our second International Virtual Summit means so much to our community because many of us have felt invisible for so long,” Sneha Dave, HAS executive director who has lived with severe ulcerative colitis since age 6, said in a press release. “The way Selma has described her diagnosis journey is so empowering for young adults who are growing up with these lifelong conditions.”

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Blair, widely recognized over her nearly two decade, diverse acting career —  she was named a Time Magazine “Person of the Year” in 2017 for her role in the #MeToo movement about sexual assault and harassment — will deliver the summit’s opening remarks on Aug 7. Other advocates will also speak at the event, which features physicians, social media influencers, organization leaders, college students, scientists, activists, and writers.

Session topics include global health policy, higher education, the workplace, grassroots patient advocacy, financial resources, international perspectives, emotional wellbeing, inclusive reproductive health, chronic illness in the media, and body image. An interactive art therapy session and an adaptive ballet class are also planned.

For information about accessibility or to request accommodations, send an email to [email protected] Accommodations require two weeks’ advance notice.

HAS works to connect and empower young adults with chronic and rare disorders through programs, events, and meetings.

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