Several people in our community have shared stories with RPF recently about their own advocacy efforts and contact they've had with government officials in light of the newly established Rheumatoid Awareness Day. Today we share two of their inspiring stories as encouragement to others who want to join in advancing the cause of rheumatoid patients through advocacy activities. Click here for some basic tips about patient advocacy or click here to see example advocacy letters.
By Jeanie Ready
To help support Rheumatoid Awareness Day, I have started a campaign to have the local city councils in my area officially acknowledge February 2nd as Rheumatoid Awareness Day. It is my hope to present these requests in person at various council meetings in my area, providing another opportunity to educate, inform, and recruit supporters. Although it is past time to attempt to get proclamations prior to the inaugural day this year, councils will still consider such action for the future. The sooner we get them involved, the better. Here's what I did to communicate my request to five local city councils today:
1. Located local city government web pages to obtain the names & email addresses for the Mayor, Mayor(s) Pro Tem, Councilmembers, City Manager and any Deputy City Managers
2. Created an email template that included a brief personal history, a request to add an action item proclaiming the official day and to present the item in person at the next available meeting, and links to the official press release, as well as the RPF website.
Depending on each city government structure, I focused on communicating mainly with the Mayor, Mayor(s) Pro Tem, City Manager and Deputy City Manager(s). Further, in my city of residence, I also included the councilmember from my district in that list. In smaller cities, I may include all councilmembers, depending on their particular governmental structure. Again, the city's official website should provide all the information needed to communicate effectively, as well as their structure. If I do not receive responses within one week, I will follow up via phone calls to the City Managers and/or Mayors of each city. However, most cities should issue some sort of response within that timeframe.
Click here to view the general template that I used in this effort. If anyone is interested in pursuing this in their local cities and towns, please feel free to use all or part of my template. Of course, please insert your own brief personal history. Also, if you're not comfortable presenting your requests in person at the council meetings, you can still request a proclamation without having to speak in person.
Proclamations of Rheumatoid Awareness Day were issued in the cities of Allen, Frisco and Plano, Texas. I've also discovered that the public information departments should be contacted to get Rheumatoid Awareness Day & any future related events posted on city calendars & websites.
By an anonymous volunteer
Recently a rheumatoid patient in Canada took a bold step to contact the Prime Minister's office regarding the establishment of Rheumatoid Awareness Day. She asked that the day be officially recognized in Canada and sent some brief information and a copy of the press release. A response was quickly received from the Prime Minister's office, redirecting the inquiry to the Minister of Health. The end result was that she received the proper information to submit a request and establish an official proclamation for next year's Rheumatoid Awareness Day in British Columbia, Canada.