The MS Society of Canada’s MS Read-a-Thon hits close to home for Ashley Spires.
The award-winning South Delta children’s author has happily stepped up as an ambassador for the annual program that helps kids discover the joy of reading while also supporting a good cause.
A generation that grew up participating in the 40-plus-year-old MS Read-a-Thon can share those memories with their own children, and get involved once again with a revamped campaign that, while still encouraging kids to read as much as they can throughout the month of February, has evolved to better fit in the digital age. It also happens to be taking place during a pandemic.
“With everyone stuck at home it seems like a really good year to be pushing reading on kids. It’s the first year shifting the program away from school and more into homes for obvious reasons,” said Spires. “They’re really trying to direct parents of connecting more on a family level than a school level.
“It’s reading as much as you can and that is the true way to promote literacy. Just get people excited about a book doesn’t matter what format it is.”
The rules for the MS Read-a-Thon are simple — read whatever you like, and as much as you can until Feb. 28. Registration through www.msreadathon.ca is free. Parents can register their child as part of their school (teachers can register their class and invite students) or individually.
“While we all appreciate a classic, we also know that children today want a modern approach,” says Becky Mitts, Senior Director, Community Fundraising, for the MS Society of Canada. “So, to make MS Read-a-Thon more fun than ever before, we’ve built an exciting, interactive website where kids can track the books they read and customize cool avatars — all while supporting their community and people living with MS.”
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and can affect vision, memory, balance and mobility. It is considered an episodic disability meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. It can also be progressive.
Spires graduated from South Delta Secondary and later Emily Carr with Emmy award-winning filmmaker Jason Da Silva who has been battling MS for the past 16 years.
“I’ve been watching him and what it has done to him and it’s heartbreaking, yet nothing can slow him down,” added Spires. “A lot of people have been touched personally by a family member or a close friend with MS. So for me, reading and this cause is a total double whammy.”
To register for MS Read-a-Thon and learn more about the event visit msreadathon.ca.