Have you ever just stopped and thought, “Wow, what an awesome day that was?” I had one of those days today. It reminded me of the importance of allotting time to re-charge. For me, this time was at day 1 of the 25th Annual American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Legislative Conference in Washington DC. There was over 130 general pediatricians, specialist pediatricians, parent advocates and nurse practitioners. All of us were there for one reason. To learn how to become better advocates for children. For families. For each other.
An advocate is someone who stands up for a particular cause or policy. The thing is when it comes to our children, parents, educators, public health officials and healthcare workers can all be effective advocates.
Maybe your passion is autism or mental health or health care? Maybe it is nutrition or safer neighborhoods? Better schools or more pay for teachers? Medical leave for families?
What is your passion?
We heard from special guests who were committed to improving the health for all children, such as the President of the AAP (Dr. Benard Dreyer) and the Commissioner of the Administration of Child, Youth and Families (Mr. Rafael Lopez). We heard from Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the general pediatrician from Flint, Michigan whose persistence in sharing her findings of dangerous lead levels in the poisoned water system in her community.
It was an amazing day. Here is a summary of the things I learned:
- Social media is a powerful platform to inform anyone and everyone about child health
- Finding others interested in child health and sometimes from groups you would not normally expect helps to amplify our message and also visibility (for example, AAP which focuses on kids and families partnering with the AARP which focuses on the wellbeing of retired persons coming together to pass the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers act)
- Parents should have a voice at the table when decisions or policies will impact them. Pediatricians and parents can partner with schools and other public health advocates to build coalitions
- Keep your message simple, share a story and follow up with an ask. Your state legislators want to know what you want.
The good news is that there is always more work to be done. Speaking up can build bridges and get the job done. So I urge all of us on social media to join in the conversation around our kids. Follow the chatter going on for the next two days #AAPLegCon for more information. It just might be the spark you need to get re-energized–especially if you have a passion or issue you want addressed about child health.
My passions/issues are promoting high quality early childcare, combating poverty, increasing access to supports for children and families dealing with behavioral issues, parenting and supporting parents with depression, gun safety.
Follow me on twitter: @nerissabauer; follow the AAP: @AmerAcadPeds; follow HealthyChildren.org @healthychildren