Summer is quickly approaching and before you know it we will be in Philadelphia at UOAA’s 7th National Conference. With so many new and exciting things planned it is sure to be the best ever! I know whenever I attend a conference I plan well in advance and create my own personal schedule to ensure I do and see all that is of particular interest to me. This includes conference sessions, social activities and taking some time for local sightseeing in a place I may never have been before. I also always go out of my way to try a new food or beverage native to a particular city or state and in this case it will be an iconic “Philly cheesesteak”.
As UOAA’s Advocacy Manager I’m very excited that this conference is being held in Philadelphia, a city so very rich in history and quite frankly home to our country’s first advocates. Here is my twist on ways you can take advantage of this city and our conference, if you have a soft spot for things “advocacy”-related:
- Be sure to sign UOAA’s Ostomy and Continent Diversion Patient Bill of Rights during Exhibit Hall hours at the UOAA booth. These signatures will be collected for potential use in advocacy efforts to improve quality in ostomy health care. You also can see one of the 12 surviving original copies of the US Bill of Rights at the National Constitution Center while in Philadelphia.
- Pay tribute to our country’s first advocates and visit the Independence National Historic Park to walk in Independence Hall where our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
- Celebrate your independence and and see the most famous cracked bell in American history – the Liberty Bell. You can see it for free at the landmark Liberty Bell Center.
- Calling all superheroes! On Wednesday, August 7th at 2:45 pm attend the UOAA Advocacy Session “United Ostomy Advocates to the Rescue”! Come hear first-hand from some of UOAA’s advocates on how they use their “superpowers”, and also learn more about current advocacy efforts underway at UOAA. Leave our national conference empowered to make a positive difference!
- Many times in advocacy we face an uphill battle and feel like an underdog. For decades now Philly has been known for the ultimate underdog tale in the Rocky movie series. Show your resilience and run/climb the infamous Rocky stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are 72 stone steps and at the top you can chant “Yo, Philadelphia! I did it!”. Or you can take a picture at the statue of this legendary “Italian Stallion” located near the bottom of the steps.
- Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love”. Show your love for the ostomy community and go to Love Park to get a picture at the “LOVE” statue designed by Robert Indiana.
- Be sure to stop by UOAA’s booth in the Exhibit Hall to pick up some of our self-advocacy tools and educational resources for use when you get back home in your own advocacy efforts.
- When it comes to advocacy and activists I can’t think of a more wiser and inspiring person than the fascinating and influential Benjamin Franklin! Not only was he one of the founding fathers of the United States, but he was an author, politician, postmaster, printer, inventor, scientist, diplomat and statesman. Of interest to the ostomy community is that he was the inventor of the flexible urinary catheter and founded the first public hospital! If you have time, visit the Franklin Science Museum or just drive by the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. As an advocate I am inspired by so many of his famous quotes. I often say the key to advocacy is not only raising awareness and educating others, but also patience and perseverance. Here are a few of my favorite quotes by Ben Franklin:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
9) On Saturday, August 10th, at 2:15PM, please pop-in to contribute to UOAA’s first-ever research study by completing a short survey. This data will help us make improvements to the underserved ostomy population. Upon doing so, you will also be entered into a drawing to win a prize!
10) Join us during the conference Closing Ceremony at 3:30PM on Saturday, August 10th where we will be recognizing for the first-time the top advocate in the ostomy community! The Mighty Advocate Award, sponsored by UOAA, is a new biennial award intended to honor one individual for his/her significant accomplishments and contributions to support UOAA advocacy efforts and/or has brought greater ostomy awareness in the United States. Your presence will help make this a special moment in our advocacy history!
In conclusion, I’m excited to put a name to the face of the many advocates who have emailed me or have worked with me on advocacy efforts over the past couple of years, and meeting more of the people we strive to make an impact every day in our work at UOAA. See you in Philly!