International Awareness Day
Also known as
International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases
annually on May 12th (since 1992)
Thomas Hennessy, Jr. in 1992
International Awareness Day—also known as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND), focuses on raising awareness for illnesses, including Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). These illnesses result in symptoms such as chronic muscle and joint pain, poor stamina, cognitive problems, and others. The day takes place on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, an English Army nurse who helped inspire the founding of the International Red Cross, who also was bedridden for much of the last fifty years of her life, as she suffered in what may have been ME/CFS.
Tom Hennessy, the founder of RESCIND, Inc. (Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases), came up with the idea for the day and thought that it should have an international focus. In general, many in the medical establishment don't know a lot about these medical issues, and it is up to those affected by the illnesses to raise awareness about them. The day has been grassroots in nature, being undertaken by individuals and organizations, but at the top it is organized by Action CIND, a Canadian charity. Activities have ranged from wearing a T-shirt of the day to creating a large gathering with public speakers. In recent years, International Light Up the Night Challenge has had the goal of getting people to light up as many buildings—both public spaces and homes—as they can. Blue has symbolized ME/CFS, purple for FM, and Green for MCS or Lyme.
How to Observe International Awareness Day
If you don't know much about the illnesses that the day raises awareness about, it may first be good for you to learn about them. Read more about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)—also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and Gulf War Illness (GWI). You could contact your city hall and ask them to proclaim the day as International Awareness Day. If you wish to plan an event, have ideas for an event, or have questions about the day, you may contact Action CIND. Ideas for the day are also provided by Action CIND. In addition, you could participate in the International Light Up the Night Challenge, by lighting up your home and emailing your pictures to Action CIND. You could also donate to Action CIND, and visit the days' Facebook page for up-to-date information.