Who doesn’t love recess? Remember those school days … you sat at your desk with your feet dangling from your chair, dreaming of the moment when the teacher would let you and your friends go to recess? Rain or shine, you got a well-deserved break from your daily routine, and you made the most of every second of it.
In elementary school, recess was about connecting with friends in a casual place, making new friends, learning about what your friends cared about, and getting the “scoop” on what was happening within the school. Well, even though we’re now grownups, recess still exists and it isn’t much different from what took place on the elementary school playground.
During the month of August, members of Congress leave their offices on Capitol Hill and head home to their own backyards for recess. That doesn’t mean they all go on vacation. It means that they’re home, visiting with their constituents and friends, learning about what matters to the people that they’re elected to represent, and connecting in a more personal and casual way than they’re able to do in Washington.
With this in mind, we’re excited to announce that MDA will be conducting our inaugural “MDA Fly Out” this August and we’d love for you to participate.
This event is a new twist on a popular advocacy tool, the legislative “fly in,” where members of an organization travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill. In the “fly out,” MDA advocates will meet with elected officials when they’re home for the summer recess.
The MDA Fly Out will avoid the strain and expense of travel, but also allow local MDA advocates — families, sponsors, clinicians, researchers, volunteers and MDA staff — to give their representatives the “scoop” on issues of importance to people affected by neuromuscular diseases.
Among other topics, MDA advocates will ask their representatives to support several pieces of legislation, including:
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows individuals with disabilities to create disability savings accounts that can accrue interest tax free.
The Community Choice Act expands choices in long-term care options.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act amends the Public Health Service Act to create a voluntary national disability insurance program.
The SMA Treatment Acceleration Act authorizes critical infrastructure and enhances key research efforts needed to expedite the fight against spinal muscular atrophy. In the previous Congress, similar legislation was introduced and received impressive support, thanks to the grassroots efforts of the SMA community.
To learn more about planned MDA Fly Out activities in your area this summer, contact your local MDA office. And remember, there’s plenty you can do to advocate for important legislation right from the comfort of home.
Visit MDA’s Advocacy Web pages to sign up to be an MDA advocate and receive e-mail alerts about important pending legislation. We’ve recently added an online tool that makes it even easier for you to “Take 5” — five minutes — for advocacy.
Our updated Web site enables you to monitor legislation and e-mail elected officials with just a few mouse clicks. Go to the MDA Advocacy page, www.mda.org/advocacy, and click on “Current Congress” to find everything you need to learn about important legislation that affects the MDA community and other legislation; click on “Get Involved in Current Advocacy Campaigns” to e-mail your elected officials. Simply enter your zip code, and the system will identify your representatives, and provide an e-mail message about specific legislation. You may personalize your message for added impact.
We hope you’ll give this new tool a try and encourage others to check it out too. Together, we can make an impact and change lives!
Annie Kennedy is the MDA Vice President for Advocacy.