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Lisa Goudy
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Mayor proclaims May as MS Awareness Month

Multiple sclerosis is “Canada’s disease,” according to Virginia Harper, communications manager with the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada Saskatchewan branch.

“Canada actually has the highest incidence rate of MS in the world,” she said. “We’re really wanting people to know that it is prevalent and even if it’s not visible that someone has MS, which often is the case, often people know someone that has MS in their community or in their family or extended group.”

Mayor Deb Higgins signed a proclamation declaring May as MS Awareness Month for the MS Society of Canada. In Saskatchewan, MS affects between 3,500 and 5,000 people.

“Proclamations are important in that they raise awareness and multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease and there is no known cause or no known cure,” said Higgins. “Chronic diseases have a tendency to overtake normal life and cause impacts far and beyond what we would understand.”

The MS Society of Canada has provided more than $117 million for MS research, programs and services over the last 60 years.

“It’s important, I think, to raise the awareness of and give people a clear understand that this is something that’s ongoing and it’s something that we need to take notice of,” said Higgins. “Saskatchewan has a pretty high instance of MS.”

 The society will do a number of initiatives to help raise awareness. One initiative, called 1 Day in May, will focus on being more specific. Suggestions include updating a Facebook timeline cover to promote 1 Day in May or tweet with the hashtag #1DayinMay. World MS Day is on May 28.

“We also encourage people to use tweeting and activity on Facebook to just sort of share how they are being active and sharing awareness about MS and what it’s like to live with MS and how it’s affected their life,” said Harper. “We’re really focused on storytelling this year and so we’re wanting to encourage that type of interaction between people just so we can get the word out there because it is a very prevalent disease in Saskatchewan and across Canada.”

In Moose Jaw, the annual MS Walk will take place on May 4 beginning at the Kiwanis Pavilion in Wakamow Valley with check-in at noon and the walk beginning at 1 p.m. Walks will be held in a total of 15 communities, making the walk the society’s largest fundraiser.

The society will do a national initiative called Listening to People with MS.

“Out of that we’ve come up with some more action-oriented types of outreach,” said Harper. “So when we’re talking to people in May this year, we’ll really be focusing on the topics of care giving and job security.”

Another thing representatives will do is go to various media outlets to do a demonstration called Try on MS.

“We bring out different sort of props that help people understand what it’s like to live with some of the effects of MS,” said Harper. “Then that’s sometimes shared with the audiences of those media outlets.”

From May 15 to 18, the Regina Public Library will show the film, Why I Walk, which was made by a filmmaker living with MS. On opening night, the society will share a few facts about MS.

Higgins said donating money and supporting the society will have benefits in the long run. She added it’s important for the community to support the MS Society and other foundations.

“Awareness is a big part of it,” she said. “Moose Jaw is a community that always supports events.”

For more information on MS or on how to get involved in MS month, visit mssociety.ca, their Facebook page at facebook.com/mssocietysk or their Twitter account @mssocietysk. People can also call the branch at 306-522-5600.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

 

Organizations: MS Society of Canada, Regina Public Library

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada, Moose Jaw Wakamow Valley

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