The Many Types of Asthma Advocacy
The word "advocate" has many different meanings.
What are the types of asthma advocacy?
For some, being an asthma advocate means getting involved in advocacy or policy work at the local, state, and federal level. For others, it means participating in local coalitions or support groups where members develop educational and awareness programs. It could also mean volunteering to help raise funds and awareness for local and national non-profits focused on finding cures for chronic disease. Even participating in clinical trials or on pharmaceutical patient panels is a form of advocacy by ensuring the patient voice is heard during all phases of research.
Your asthma story is powerful
In today’s world, many of us living with asthma and/or other chronic diseases choose to share our stories on blogs, or online and print publications.
Even if you think your personal asthma story is not unique or particularly interesting, I assure you that it is. Others need to hear your story; people living with asthma need to know they are not alone. Legislators need to know how the laws they sign and the funding they distribute can impact the lives of their constituents.
Non-profits must show that they are helping those who need it, and that the donations they receive are making a difference to secure continued funding. Also, pharmaceutical companies need to include the patient perspective in everything they develop-- from clinical trial protocols to marketing materials.
Practicing advocacy for asthma
As an asthma advocate, you can be involved in as little or as much as you'd like. Want to be a keynote speaker at a large conference? Fantastic! Prefer to volunteer at your local awareness walk? Terrific. Advocates with different interests and skills are all needed.
Ways to become an advocate
- Write an op-ed. Are you a good writer and prefer not to be in front of the camera? Write an op-ed for your local newspaper about why funding and awareness for asthma are needed.
- Speak at a local city committee meeting. Share your story with your local school board and ask for every student with asthma to have access to their medication. Speak at the city council meeting and let them know how vaping and smoking ordinances impact lung health.
- Reach out to your legislators. Call or write your legislators to ask for funding for local initiatives or for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If you have the chance, attend an Asthma on the Hill day and meet with your state legislators in Washington DC. It’s actually a very interesting and fun process that many national asthma organizations arrange every May for Asthma Awareness Month.
- Be a guest. If you don’t blog, ask to be a guest blogger or to be interviewed by their blog or website. You can also ask to be interviewed for a podcast or a newsletter. Most non-profit organization newsletters include a patient highlight.
- Use social media. Ask the asthma organizations you are working with for assistance in creating social media content that you both can use. This includes Instagram stories, YouTube and website videos, and social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. Host an “Ask Me Anything” chat so others who have the disease can post questions for you to answer.
When you have asthma, so much of your life can feel like it’s out of control. When and where will I run into my triggers? Will this cold turn into bronchitis? Or my favorite-- will my insurance change my medication again?
Take your power back
Practicing advocacy for asthma allows you to take some of that power back. The more you share your story, the more powerful you become. Of course, you are helping yourself, but you are also helping others. Others who can relate because your story is also their story. Others who are inspired by your courage and willingness to put yourself out there in order to make things better for not just yourself, but for everyone.
Have you found a way to be an asthma advocate? Share your experience in the comments!
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