Awhile back I posted a video that was made for MS Awareness. Check it out if you haven't seen it. It was made in a shopping mall and passers by that were interested in what was going on came by and agreed to using props designed to simulate what it feels like to have MS.
Along with some of the props there were goggles smeared with Vaseline. Rubber gloves to wear while attempting to button a shirt, and a large physical therapy rubber band to wear around both calves to try to walk with, and dry macaroni to put in one's shoes.
Well, in kicking off MS Awareness month I agreed to volunteer at one of these tables last Saturday. I met two very nice women with MS , one with a precocious 10 year old daughter who had been to MS camp several times and was very informed on the subject.
Besides the props for the "experience" we had pamphlets and info on the coming walks and rides as well as all the general information on Multiple Sclerosis.
And we chatted amongst ourselves, and we sat...and sat...(well I did, I'm still hurting from mulch madness)
There were many people in the mall that day and we were positioned between the big anchor store and the food court. As people walked by I sat ready to make eye contact and smile...ready to offer a pamphlet and chat.
They walked by, quickly glancing at the table and then quickly moved away, on their particular mission, avoiding ALL eye contact. We weren't asking for donations! Were they afraid of us? One with a cane, the other with a rollator. I believe that they quickly assessed that we weren't giving anything away and moved on as if we weren't there. Even when I managed a nanosecond of eye contact with one and gave a cheery salutation it was made clear that we were invisible.
One of the ladies was bolder than I. She got up with some pamphlets and walked around the food court introducing herself to the mall diners. She wasn't always received well, but she persevered and managed a few conversations and one volunteer for our "experience".
We were (not me personally) interviewed and shown on our local news channel, but I was so disappointed at the reception we received at the mall. Maybe we needed a better presence. A large banner for our table, orange balloons we could have offered the children, orange rubber bracelets, maybe some ben-gaye for the geriatric crowd....Something!
The cynic in me is saying that most people don't really give a crap about anything unless it effects them personally. And I'm happy that it doesn't.