Guest Blogger: Christie Thompson, RN, MSN, Utah
I have been a member of the Utah Stroke Task Force since 2006. Often times, the Government Relations Director, Marc Watterson, has challenged the members to get involved in legislative issues surrounding stroke and heart disease, as well as reaching out to local government officials to recognize and increase stroke awareness.
I am not one for politics --- in no way, shape, or form! So, you can imagine that as I sat in the April Utah Stroke Task Force meeting, I pretty much decided to block the invitation from Marc from my mind to reach out to my local governing bodies, requesting that they honor the month of May to be declared as Stroke Month.
However, as I left the meeting that day - and in the days following - I continued to think about the request for spreading the message about stroke. I sort of felt a responsibility and a duty as a Stroke Coordinator to reach out; after all, who else was going to do it?! Whenever I know I should do something, but I don’t want to do it, I get that sort of sick, nervous, butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well, that is just how I felt!
Remember, I don’t care much for politics and I really didn’t want to get involved. It all seemed very scary to me and I didn’t know where to start, who to talk to, or what to say --- the list of excuses goes on and on. As I thought about it more, I convinced myself that it really couldn’t be that hard to do. And, it also dawned on me that this could be a very easy and inexpensive opportunity for educating the community about stroke awareness and prevention.
So, I began typing an email requesting help from Marc. He was very helpful and sent me an email with clear-cut instructions on how to request a spot on the agenda at the different council meetings.
Guess what I found out?! It was easy! I emailed my agenda request and the language for the Stroke Proclamation to my city and county councils. I received email confirmations about the agenda request and information about where and when the council meetings would take place. Then, I showed up. The government leaders seemed very pleased and happy to have me and my colleagues there at their meetings. As the proclamation was read, you could tell that they understood the importance of our request and unanimously voted to declare May 2014 as Stroke Month!
Declaring May as Stroke Month --- To Do or Not To Do?! It is a definite TO DO! Most government leaders may not even think about declaring May as Stroke Month, so it’s up to us to get out there and DO IT!
Maybe it’s not Stroke Month that you want recognized by government officials, but whatever it is, I’ve discovered that it’s really not as scary as I once thought, especially with the support and guidance of a supportive and encouraging Advocacy Director.