Navigating Epilepsy: The Road Ahead

Becoming an Advocate

NEREG flagIt seems to be the season of Epilepsy walks and Epilepsy fundraisers, so I thought I would use this month’s blog entry to discuss the importance of advocacy and share some tips.

So first we should define advocacy:
According to the Marriam Webster Dictionary, advocacy is defined as: the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.

Being an advocate also empowers the individual to feel that they are able to make a difference in their lives and also the lives of others. It also helps give a voice to their experience and helps to promote awareness.

Anyone can be an advocate, and if you go to our facebook page:.epilepsylifelinks you will see many examples of local “heroes” who have been able to advocate for their cause and make a difference it in the community at large. I have included some tips for effective advocacy to help get you started.

1. Know the facts: To gain and maintain credibility, it is critical that you have the all of the facts on both sides of any issue. Having this information at your finger-tips will help you in conversations with government officials, the media, other advocates, and the general public.
2. Use the facts: Any position you take should be grounded in the facts. It is often helpful to put your facts into one-pagers that you can distribute.
3. Have clear and concise message: —you need to get to your point quickly and concisely. You want everyone to understand the issues you are raising.
4. Nurture relationships and work collaboratively: Advocacy is a joint venture- you need to find your allies and work with them.
5. Engage the public: Use the media, social media, petitions, letters, e-mails and other grassroots strategies to engage as many people as you can.
6. Make your voice heard! Advocacy is not the place for being shy. Make sure you spread the word.
7. Say thank you: Remember that everyone is busy and their time is valuable.

Hopefully this will inspire you to take on the challenge of becoming an epilepsy advocate.

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