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Reflecting on World MS Day 2021

Each year, World MS Day brings together the global MS community to raise awareness, advocate for better services and effective treatments, connect with research and build the MS community.

World MS Day focusses on a theme, and for 2020 – 2022 a three year Connections theme was introduced. The MS Connections campaign is all about building connections, self-connection and connections to quality care. It challenges the social barriers that can leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and socially isolated.

World MS Day 2021 saw MS Australia contribute significantly to this international exploration of relationships, connections and the impacts of social isolation and loneliness for people living with MS. We focused on our sub-theme of ‘Connecting with Family and Friends’, to encourage the MS community to stay connected, or reconnect with loved ones.

We invited Australians to stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected by MS. We encouraged Australians to reach out to anyone they knew living with MS. To tell those they love that they are there for them. To invite them out for a coffee and check in on how they are going.

Our highlights from World MS Day 2021:

Animation: Connecting with Family and Friends

In the lead up to World MS Day, MS Australia worked with the MS community to bring you our new animation: Connecting with Family and Friends. Our animation is now subtitled in Spanish, Greek, Swedish, Slovak, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Indonesian. Thanks to Spain’s MS organisation, Esclerosis Múltiple España, the animation is also available completely in Spanish.

Our animation has already been viewed by over 22,000 people! We’d also like to thank MSIF, Multiple Sclerosis News Today and a number of the MS state and territory MS organisations for sharing our animation.

Having a chronic illness like MS, can leave you feeling lonely and isolated. Our animation highlights the importance of connections, especially after the events of 2020 and beyond. By staying connected with family and friends, you can weather any storm.

A special thanks to our narrator Sonia, who lives with MS. Sonia welcomed us into her home to share with you her MS story and talk about her involvement in our animation series; Connecting with Family and Friends, and Invisible Symptoms. Watch below – Sonia Marcon: The Face Behind the Voice.

World MS Day Social Media Campaign:

MS Australia, along with our friends at MS Research Australia launched a social media campaign during the month of May to raise awareness and highlight World MS Day 2021.

We reached 133,540 people during the campaign, with 13,384 engagements across our MS Australia and MS Research Australia accounts. On Facebook alone, the combined campaign reached 91,398 people with 12,017 engagements. A huge thank you to everyone who got involved and enjoyed our content!

Check out our social media campaign for World MS Day by visiting our social pages!

World MS Day Video Messages:

CEO of MS Australia, Rohan Greenland, launched World MS Day with a welcome message to the MS Community. We are excited to announce that this video has been viewed by over 5,300 people.

We were thrilled to receive a video message from the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, sending greetings to the Australian MS community on World MS Day.

As many will know, the Prime Minister has a personal connection to MS as his brother-in-law, Gary, lives with MS. The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of connections and support for those living with the disease – a theme his family knows well.

We extend our thanks to the Prime Minister for taking the time to help raise awareness about MS and to help us celebrate World MS Day.

Click here to watch the video message from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

World MS Day 2021 Events:

There were many ways to celebrate World MS Day 2021 to come together to form MS Connections.

We created a dedicated events page for World MS Day activities taking place across the globe.

Some of the many World MS Day 2021 events included:

  • MS Research and Advocacy Update with the Parliamentary Friends of MS: Live-streamed from Parliament House, MS research experts, Senators, and the MS Australia CEO and President presented the latest updates in MS research, advocacy and what MS Australia and the Australian Federal Government is doing to improve the lives of people living with MS. We have had more than 1,500 views of the live-streamed event recording! Click here to watch the event recording.
  • Breaking Barriers to Connection: This virtual event brought to you by our state member, MS Limited featured four expert speakers and a panel discussion that focused on a range of topics including understanding love languages, the benefits of peer support, communicating your symptoms and medications, and strategies to support carers. Click here to watch the recording.
  • Research with Connections: The Menzies Institute for Medical Research in Tasmania celebrated the power of connections with a research symposium. There were presentations from MS researchers, experts, community members and our President Associate Professor Des Graham. Click here to learn more about this event.
  • Tune in for MS: The global MS movement gathered to ‘Tune in for MS,’ with the global MS community coming together on World MS Day in solidarity and celebration. There were performances and messages from some of the stars of the MS community, including Spanish flamenco dancer Nella MadarroPortuguese street artist Ezik and MS International Federation’s own Global MS Choir! Click here to watch the live-streamed event.
  • MS Walk Run + Roll Goes Virtual: This virtual event brought the MS community together to either complete a 5km or 10km distance at home on World MS Day 2021. Click here to find out more information about this event.
  • Yoga for World MS Day: The Yoga Partnership joined with our state member MS QLD to provide accessible and inclusive yoga classes outdoors across Queensland. Options were given for those practicing on a mat,chair or in a wheelchair. To find out more information about this event click here.

For more information on the events that took place this World MS Day, please click here.

World MS Day 2021 in the Media:

The following news articles were published on MS Australia’s website, highlighting our World MS Day 2021 campaign and the work that is being done to improve the lives of people living with MS through research and advocacy efforts:

The MS International Federation published articles on the World MS Day website, about the genesis of the MS Australia Connecting with Family and Friends Animation and a piece by para cyclist and informal MS Australia advocate, Emily Petricola about sport and connections:

Several other media coverage opportunities were secured in the lead up to and on World MS Day 2021. Here is a brief overview of the coverage received:

Video source: ABC TV News Breakfast – Interview with para cyclist Emily Petricola

Other

  • ABC Radio Adelaide Saturday breakfast program interviewed local Emma Archer about life with MS, research and World MS Day.
  • Acknowledgement of World MS Day in Federal Parliament’s “Hansard” report – took place in the Senate on 13 May.
  • Our state/territory MS member organisations also secured wide media coverage in their local jurisdictions across the nation.
  • Acknowledgments by various health and disability sector peers on social media.

MS Connections Toolkit:

MS Connections Toolkit:

To support World MS Day 2021, the MS International Federation (MSIF) created a free MS Connections toolkit, to bring positive change to the lives of more than 2.8 million people around the world.

The MS Connections toolkit included: graphicssocial media shareablespostersemail signatures and much more. Click here to access the full MS Connections toolkit.

As part of the global working group for MSIF, we look forward to updating you about how you can get involved in World MS Day 2022 – Connecting with Community – Monday 30 May, 2022. Stay tuned!

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Advocacy for social justice, wellbeing and MS

MS Australia has advocated for the MS community for key issues related to health, disability, aged care and now also MS Research.
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Reflecting on World MS Day 2021