On January 30, the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), END7 student supporters around the world kicked off the second annual NTD Awareness Week. For seven days, students held fundraisers, led advocacy activities and raised awareness of the burden of NTDs and the incredible promise of the global effort to end them for good.
Here are some of the highlights from a fun and busy week:
The END7 Mexico Chapter, led by students at Anáhuac University in Mexico City, raised awareness of NTDs among students and faculty on campus by creating five unique posters about NTDs for display on the University’s Faculty Board (with plans for 13 more posters in the works!). END7 Mexico members shared more than 100 posts about NTDs on social media throughout the week. Dr. Diego Abelardo Álvarez Hernández, a postgraduate student and representative on the END7 Campus Leaders Council, welcomed a new faculty member to the Anáhuac University NTD Interest Group, increasing the University’s research focus on NTDs like Chagas disease present in Mexico. To end the week, the group planned an acoustic night at Peña El Sapo Cancionero, a large venue that they completely filled for a special concert with musician Lalo Onti. Ticket sales for the event raised nearly $500 for END7!
The students of END7 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. kicked off NTD Awareness Week with Media Monday, a social media blast of facts about NTDs and END7, and T-shirt Tuesday – a fun way for END7 members to wear their support for END7 on their sleeves and raise awareness of NTDs! They ended the week with a fundraiser at South Block Juice Co. on Thursday and a pizza party to gather as a club to watch END7’s Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Peter Hotez on Friday.
END7 at Northeastern University planned a full slate of activities to celebrate NTD Awareness Week in Boston. Throughout the week, club officers gave short presentations in science classes to recruit new members to their END7 chapter and advertise the week’s events – including a fun Zumba workout class fundraiser! Students sweat and shimmied for a good cause, raising $100 for NTD treatment. They refueled on Friday with a pizza party to watch END7’s Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Peter Hotez.
END7 at the University of Texas-Dallas organized a fundraiser at the restaurant Raising Cane’s on January 30, with the restaurant donating 15% of profits to END7 – a fun and delicious way to kick off NTD Awareness Week. Throughout the week, club members promoted their chapter’s brand-new Twitter account and used their own social media accounts to spread the word about NTDs, posting “unselfies” explaining their passion for the cause.
Fellow Texans at Rice University in Houston also had a busy NTD Awareness Week, planning an event every single day to build a drumbeat about NTDs and END7 on campus!
On Sunday, they handed out donuts to students in exchange for “likes” on their club’s Facebook page – a clever marketing strategy to spread the word about the rest of the week’s events! They continued this tasty approach with a candy giveaway at the library on Monday, and switched gears Tuesday by releasing a new awareness-raising video and entering students who shared it in a raffle. Wednesday saw more donuts and more Facebook likes, while things took a more academic turn Thursday with a journal club discussion for research-minded students interested in learning more about the Zika virus (fueled by bagels and coffee, of course).
END7 at Rice joined student groups around the world in hosting a viewing party for END7’s Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Peter Hotez – tuning in to see one of their own club officers, Policy and Advocacy co-chair Renisa Ramnath, serve as one of the student interviewers! They worked off the pizza they enjoyed at the party at their final NTD Awareness Week event on Saturday: a “Ball for Life” basketball tournament! Teams of 3 competed to win tickets to a Houston Rockets NBA game and all proceeds from registration went to END7.
END7’s oldest student chapter at the University of Texas-Austin celebrated NTD Awareness Week with a NTD documentary watch party. They also hosted a successful “bagels and brochures” tabling event handing out free Panera treats and information about NTDs to passing students.
For the second year, END7’s dedicated Canadian student supporters at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax celebrated NTD Awareness Week with a Tropical Night fundraiser. This evening of tropical food, games and costumes is a great example of how fun fundraising can be while generating support for NTD treatment – in this case, over $700 worth!
END7 Campus Leaders Council member Deepshika Verma, working to launch an END7 chapter at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, got a publicity boost during NTD Awareness Week with a fantastic radio story about END7 produced by USC student Alana Bracken. As Deepshika put it on air, “END7 tries to shed light on these diseases because they’re just as important as the diseases we’re very well aware about” – a great summary of our goals for NTD Awareness Week!
Students at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in in Kumasi, Ghana and the University of Benin in Benin City, Nigeria joined the charge to raise awareness of NTDs by distributing educational materials, putting up END7 posters and hosting awareness events on campus as they strived to spread the word about their cause and recruit new members to their growing chapters.
Many students dove into advocacy during NTD Awareness Week, with students at the UTHealth campus in Brownsville, Texas writing five op-eds defending the value of U.S. investments in global health at this time of political change in the United States and abroad. END7 supporters at Duke University enrolled in a student-led “house course” on NTDs joined in with an op-ed writing competition using END7’s latest op-ed writing guide. END7 Student Advisory Board representative John Lu, a Duke junior spending the spring semester studying abroad at Oxford University in the UK, hosted a pizza party to introduce Oxford students to the END7 campaign by watching END7’s Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Peter Hotez. Despite having just arrived on campus, John recruited 20 students to attend the event and explore opportunities to fight NTDs on campus!
The second annual NTD Awareness Week was a truly global celebration of the amazing progress that has been made in the fight against NTDs in the five years since the London Declaration on NTDs and the launch of the END7 campaign – and a reminder that advocacy, fundraising, and creative efforts to raise awareness are needed more than ever to reach our end goal of a world free from the suffering caused by NTDs. We are grateful that the END7 student community is leading the charge!