Advocacy is necessary by Chiara Kusmierek

I am the Director of Social Media for Joshua’s Heart Foundation. I began volunteering with this organization in my freshman year of high school and I can say that it has given me many opportunities and opened my eyes to the world. As the Director of Social Media, I was able to connect with Florence French from Bread for the World and partake along with many other JAB members in a webinar regarding global health in light of current events.

Yara, who hosted the webinar, and her sister Summer are truly inspiring young advocates who showed their passion for advocating for world issues. The main emphasis of the webinar was to state that advocacy is necessary because things rarely happen on their own. This was tied into what is currently happening in the world today with COVID-19.

Dr. Pai started off by comparing the very large and successful advocacy for HIV/AIDS, to TB, and to the novel coronavirus. It is important to look at and study HIV/AIDS advocacy due to its large success. Here are some main points to take away from HIV/AIDS advocacy:
– build on movements
– use fear and outrage of people affected to create an effect (engage people who are affected)
– mobilize and organize in order to sustain advocacy
– play good cop/bad cop
– know your stuff (studies, statistics, research, policy, events)
– get involved with organizations/programs and stages regarding what you are trying to advocate for (ex: for HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical companies, production process)

Yara and her sister Summer then went on to give specific ways in which she advocates and encourages everyone to do the same. Some of these are writing letters and social media posts to members of congress as well as paying them visits and setting up meetings. Meetings are challenging during a time like this of the pandemic so she discussed that the best way to contact and get their attention is online.

Yara also showed how to call a member of the congress/government office and left a message. This is a quick and easy way to advocate which leaves a personal touch. She also discussed that she attended lobby meetings in D.C. which were a Mega Action.

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