For those of you who didn’t tune in to yesterday’s fabulous #HAChat, the topic was “awareness.” What does awareness mean to you and your community? For many of Health Activists, spreading awareness is what made them open up about their disease. KatharineS84 said, “I’m excited for this topic because it’s the main reason I started opening up about living with #cysticfibrosis.” However, in following yesterday’s conversation, it became clear that “awareness” doesn’t have a very clear definition. It takes on a different meaning depending not only on your perspective as a Health Activist, but also depending on your condition. Awareness of diabetes will certainly differ from that of multiple myeloma, as will expectations of how aware others should be. Some definitions from our chat yesterday included:
A new year means a bunch of new opportunities to raise awareness for health conditions and communities. There are numerous health observances and “awareness months/weeks/days” or events that seek to do a bunch of different things (raise consciousness, funding, share research, and reduce stigma – among others.) But let’s really look at the idea of “awareness” today.
Earlier this month we wrote about 4 Health Awareness Events to Share in June, and we hope you joined us in sharing information about Men’s Health, Cancer, HIV and Sickle Cell Disease with your communities this month.
What you may not have known, however, is that June is also the month devoted to raising awareness about Migraine and Dystonia. While you won’t find these events in the calendar of National Health Observances compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services, both Migraine and Dystonia affect the lives of many in our online communities. Health Activists in our community have dedicate time all year round to awareness for these conditions – and their efforts are truly influencing people within the Migraine community and Dystonia community and beyond by educating, reducing stigma, and sharing resources.
June is here and with it comes a collection of health observances that you can learn about and share with your community. Even if your community’s awareness month, week, or day falls on another part of the year – we hope you’ll join the WEGO Health Community in highlighting these health communities and the Health Activists that lead them!
photo credit: rahego on flickr
Slacktivism (slacker + activism) is a topic we’ve discussed before in our community. Wikipedia tells us, “The word [Slacktivist] is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist.” Another version of it is called “clicktivism.” But, hey now, we are real activists and we click things! (And that word doesn’t even work because it doesn’t rhyme!)
In honor of Brain Awareness Week (a week that aptly contains the birthday of famous brain Albert Einstein – whose own brain, apparently weighed roughly 500g less than the average adult brain.) I wanted to share with you the noble mission behind this week and take a few minutes to reflect upon how important neuroscience is. In the past few decades alone, significant advances in the field of neuroscience have been made. It’s no secret that our brains are the epicenters of our bodies and, really, our person-hood and lives – but we have a lot more to learn about them. The mission of Brain Awareness Week is to recognize and encourage the behind-the-scenes efforts of the scientific community to learn, research, discover, map, and further understand these grayish three-pound fat-masses we so greatly rely upon.
Here is Part Two of my interview with Katie Schwartz, founder of Dear Thyroid. (Click here to read Part One)
Amanda: Dear Thyroid is a different kind of health community and it says so right in the first line of the About page. What made you decide to bring your crusade online?
Katie Schwartz: Being a writer, I have an ongoing love affair with words. I believe that each person (when they are ready) must tell their story in their own words. Our slogan is “Healing our thyroids one letter at a time”. We mean that literally and metaphorically. Write and submit as many letters as it takes. Join our conversations in comments, and on our chat boards.
In honor of January’s Thyroid Awareness Month, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Katie Schwartz, Health Activist mastermind behind the community Dear Thyroid™. Like her community, Katie is fiercely dedicated to being honest and real about life and thyroid conditions. Her responses to my questions are saturated with rich, fun language, likely due to her background as a comedy writer and fellow lover of words. In addition to being well-spoken, Katie takes a fresh approach to advocacy that is both light-hearted and content-centric. (Perhaps it’s no surprise why I’m such a fan!) Personally, I connected immediately with Dear Thyroid’s mission statement and their literary focus. It doesn’t take long to see why this community is special and why it has engaged so many. A self-proclaimed “pushy broad,” you can expect many more great things from Katie and her community in the future.