THE forty-third MS Readathon commences in August, with children encouraged to read as much as they can to support an incredible cause.
As of the beginning of August, over 24,000 people have registered to take part in the readathon, and more than one million dollars has already been raised.
Since 1978 the annual event has fundraised to support families living with multiple sclerosis.
The program provides funds for family camps and fun days, where kids who have a parent with MS can learn more about the condition and bond with other children sharing the journey.
Multiple Sclerosis is an incurable chronic condition involving the central nervous system and a weakening of the protective layer around nerve fibres.
Multiple Sclerosis Ltd’s senior manager, individual giving Elizabeth Dorizac, said since its inception the reading challenge has made a significant impact on MS Research.
“Australian researchers are continually discovering life-changing scientific breakthroughs and there are now six times more MS treatments available than there were 20 years ago.
“In fact, the research community believe we could be as little as ten years away from stopping MS and undoing some of the damage caused by the disease,” Ms Dorizac said.
Studies regularly show how vital reading is for academic and economic success, as well as for mental health.
Indeed, some researchers have even found the reading of fiction to increase empathy.
As reading abilities and engagement are altered by the digital age, young peoples’ relationship with books is changing.
A 2019 study by the National Literacy Trust revealed that only 26 per cent of people under 18 read every day.
The MS Readathon provides a fantastic opportunity for children to get stuck into a book.
“We saw participation numbers double to over 47,000 last year and we’re aiming for a high number of participants again this year,” Ms Dorizac said.
Ms Dorizac praises the event as a chance for kids to stay connected during lockdowns when libraries are closed and as a break from online learning.
“The MS Readathon is one of the best ways kids can stay connected during lockdown; it’s a fun and rewarding program for kids to get involved in”, she said.
“The digital element also connects kids to their friends and schoolmates, tracks their fundraising and recommends great books to read.
“Reading is a great way to flex kids’ imagination, especially in what is a difficult period.
“Getting lost in a good book is a great way to pass the time productively and throughout August it’s all for a good cause.!”
Children can register to take part with their school or individually and keep track of their book tally on the MSReadathon website.
Whether it’s reading two books or twenty, the readathon is a unique opportunity to nurture a love of reading while fundraising for a great cause.