What personal reward do you get from your work as an arthritis advocate?
I never set out in search of rewards. I originally just wanted to meet someone who understood my life, my life with arthritis. What I have found is the compassion, care and support of hundreds of people just like me and these friendships have become my reward.
Knowing I can make a positive impact in others lives as they battle life with arthritis is enough to make my efforts worthwhile. I know that with my efforts, and the efforts of the hundreds of other arthritis advocates, a difference can be made. The biggest reward is felt when I see the isolation which this disease can bring with it come to a halt, by locating and introducing other people with arthritis. The connections and friendships are irreplaceable.
If someone is interested in becoming an active arthritis advocate where and how do they begin?
Arthritis advocates are in high demand. These are individuals committed to influencing positive changes in their lives, their communities and in their elected governments.
According to the Arthritis Foundation there are 10 reasons to advocate:
- You can make a difference. It takes one person to initiate change.
- People working together can make a difference. Individuals formed Mothers Against Drunk Driving and convinced states to toughen drunk driving laws. As a result, the numbers of drunk driving deaths are lower.
- People can change laws. It is hard to change laws and policies. Some take decades. But it can be done. Woman's suffrage movement began in 1848, and women successfully got the power to vote in 1920.
- Advocacy is a democratic tradition.
- Advocacy helps find real solutions. People asking their elected officials for support can generate innovative solutions that overcome the root-cause of a problem.
- Advocacy is easy. Advocacy is easier and more effective when many committed people work together. One person does not have to do everything or know everything.
- Policymakers need your expertise. You can make problems real to policymakers.
- Advocacy helps people. You may not personally provide a direct service, but through your advocacy work, you enable thousands of others to do so.
- The views of local nonprofits are important.
- Advocacy advances your cause and builds public trust. Advocacy helps an organization increase visibility and gain public trust.
One way you can help is by making your personal stories and opinions known! You can easily get involved by calling, writing a letter, sending an email, or visiting your elected representatives in Washington, DC, and within your own state. You CAN start making changes happen simply by going to http://www.arthritis.org This is the home page for the Arthritis Foundation and here you can begin a journey to becoming an advocate for arthritis. I encourage everyone to stop in and take a look. You can start today and will help the millions of women, men, and children with this crippling disease.
One goal of the Arthritis Foundation is to improve the lives of the 43 million Americans living with arthritis. But your help is needed to get more government funding for arthritis research, to encourage early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment, and to improve access to quality health care for everyone with arthritis.
The Advocacy Summit
Volunteers, people with arthritis and related conditions, and Foundation staff are invited to attend a yearly Advocacy Summit.
The Advocacy Summit focuses on Arthritis Advocacy Priorities including:
- major public policy issues affecting persons with arthritis
- increasing federal funding for arthritis research
- promoting early diagnosis and treatment
- improving access to quality health care and medications
For more information about the Advocacy Summit visit http://www.arthritis.org/advocacy/
I was fortunate enough to take part in the Advocacy Summit last winter and as a result of our voices being heard, Congress passed the Children's Health Act of 2000. For the first time, juvenile arthritis will be recognized as a national health priority. This is an important victory in the ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for children living with arthritis. ~ Donna Fox
What Is Camp Diversity?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, "Camp Diversity is a disability awareness education program designed to increase understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities. Camp Diversity is a joint effort between the Arthritis Foundation and the Girl Scouts of the USA."
To learn about Camp Diversity activities scheduled in your area, please check information provided by the local Arthritis Foundation chapters.
Interview with Donna Fox, 01/10/2001
Inside Advocacy, Arthritis Foundation.