It takes a special kind of person to advocate for others, especially in the chronic pain and illness communities. It's not for everyone, and that's okay.
The first step is to learn as much as you can about the people you're advocating for, even if you share the same illness as that community. Not everyone will have the same viewpoints, respond to the same medications or other treatments, or have similar onset or severity stories. If you have the same illness, this step will help you to advocate for yourself more effectively as well.
Learn more from arthritis-related organizations:
- American College of Rheumatology
- Arthritis Foundation
- CDC: Arthritis
- John Hopkins Arthritis Center
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (NIAMS)
Advocacy can be as simple as signing a petition, sharing information via social media, heading to an elected official's office to discuss issues, or testifying before state or federal government entities regarding various bills.
|Me and Rep. Mark Pocan at his DC office|
How to Advocate:
- Be Your Own Health Advocate (CJ Australia)
- Center for Nonprofit Excellence Resources on Advocacy
- How a Bill Becomes Law
- This is It: Your Ultimate Public Speaking Cheat Sheet
If you're ready to start getting involved, I highly recommend the AF Advocate Toolkit also listed below. It gives some great basic information about arthritis that can give you ideas of things to think of even if arthritis isn't your cause.
Resources & Ways to Get Involved:
- American College of Rheumatology Advocates
- Arthritis Foundation Ambassadors
- Arthritis Foundation Advocates
- Arthritis Foundation Advocate Toolkit
- Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
- Seth's 50 State Network
- The Arthritis Society (Canada)