Massage is for EveryBody—Heartfelt and Homegrown

A box of canned goods and food labeled "Donations"

Massage is for EveryBody

By Karrie Osborn

Reaching out to underserved communities has always been a cornerstone of ABMP’s weeklong celebration of massage, as has the mantra, “lend your hearts and hands.” Despite a name change, that remains true today.

Originally coined International Massage Week when first launched in 1995, and then EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week shortly thereafter, ABMP changed the name of this national celebration in 2021 to more aptly reflect a change in vision and philosophy. Now, Massage is for EveryBody becomes the year-round umbrella under which to frame not only recognition of the work you do, but also the significant impact your work has on others.

As we move forward with this year’s Massage is for EveryBody event July 18–24, let’s first take a look back at the journey of this celebration and the impact our ABMP members have had on their communities.

Heartfelt and Homegrown

Over the years, ABMP’s members have participated in massage week in so many ways. There were 5K races and farmer’s markets; there were Pay it Forward campaigns and free chair massage for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. Since the beginning, ABMP members have embraced giving something back and found their own unique ways to contribute. Big and small, each effort brought massage a little bit closer to the community, a little bit closer to those who didn’t think they “deserved” a massage, and a little bit closer to those who didn’t know the power of therapeutic touch.

Sometimes, the efforts felt very homegrown: Having clients bring in nonperishable foods to get a discount on their service equated to thousands and thousands of dollars of goods for local food banks. This has been a favorite go-to event for many of our practitioners over the years who wanted to honor the weeklong celebration and make a difference in their communities.

The heartfelt intentions were palpable when therapists would pick their favorite charity or causes to support, and then get the opportunity to hand over fundraising monies directly to those they knew it would help. Some members donated a portion of their week’s earnings, while others encouraged their clients to be part of the philanthropy. Sometimes it was even more special—when someone could offer hands-on work to these groups.

One year, ABMP’s advertising director, Angie Parris-Rainey, volunteered her time teaching young mothers how to massage their children. That effort alone trickled through the community, as families with few resources were connected through touch in a way that nothing else could have. The light in the young mothers’ eyes, when they realized that all they needed to soothe their child’s cries of distress was loving touch—how profound is that? And how powerful that is, not only for the family, but for the one who showed them the way? You have that same gift in your hands.

What has always been foundational about this event is the joy it inspires. Members tell us their stories each year, and there is always a sense of compassion and purposefulness. When the volunteer in us is allowed to do good work, it is joyful. Helping others is actually a salve for the soul. It inspires, it fills you up, it brings back an inner purpose. It reminds us that we can do more, that we can be better, and that living within a framework of gratitude puts a much different light on the world.

How can you bring massage to those in underserved communities—from the elderly to the homeless, from food desserts to food kitchens? How can you share massage and bodywork with people who have never experienced therapeutic touch before? How can you share the message that massage is for everybody . . . not just during Massage is for EveryBody week, but all year long?

We’re excited for the new focus and intention with our annual massage event, and we hope you take this time to consider how you can embrace ABMP’s Massage is for EveryBody campaign in your own way. We’d love to hear your stories.

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