Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Training

Last night APL and I drove down to Denver to attend an advocacy training session at the Arthritis Foundation. We weren't really sure what to expect, but we wanted to learn about the options so that we can try to do something positive with my RA.

It was a really interesting evening. A current Arthritis Ambassador and recent Arthritis Advocacy Summit participant told us about her experiences advocating for the Arthritis Foundation. A Senior Congressional Aide gave us advice about how to talk to our congressional representatives. And the Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator of the Arthritis Foundation explained the importance of grassroots advocacy in obtaining funding for arthritis research and encouraged us to participate.

APL signed up to be an E-Advocate, which I have already been doing. If you are reading this blog you obviously care about arthritis, and so I highly encourage you to sign up to be an E-Advocate as well!! It means that you will receive Action Alert emails when important arthritis-related issues are debated on Capitol Hill. The Arthritis Foundation will then provide you with a letter that you can send to your elected officials to tell them that, as one of their constituents, you care about arthritis and its impacts - though it is much more effective if you can edit the letter to include a few sentences of your own personal story. Either way it takes only five minutes of your time and it helps secure funding for much-needed arthritis research.   Please consider clicking here to sign up to be an E-Advocate for the Arthritis Foundation!!

Since I have managed to move forward from writing about my arthritis to talking about it on video, I decided it was time to get over my phone phobia and do something even more positive with my RA. So I signed up to be an Arthritis Ambassador!! This means that I have committed 2 hours each month to advocating for the Arthritis Foundation. Every other month, one hour will be spent on a webinar with other Ambassadors from around the country. At that point, I will receive an assignment - such as writing or (take a deep breath!) calling my Representative's Health Legislative Assistant or attending a local town hall meeting to ask important questions, tell my story, and let my representatives know that I care about arthritis. If I am lucky, I may also get a chance to attend the annual Arthritis Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC.

I am both nervous and excited to see where this will lead me, and I hope it will allow me to make a positive impact on the lives of people living with arthritis.

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