By Jeanine Gleba, UOAA Advocacy Manager
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
It’s coming! As I write this there are 50 days 9 hours and 41 minutes until World Ostomy Day on October 6, 2018! (Current Countdown) Then you will have to wait another 3 years for the International Ostomy Association to sponsor it again. UOAA is thrilled to join our national efforts with the rest of the world and we want ostomates across the country to join us from big cities to small town America to make this day a pretty big deal.
In both my professional and personal life as an “advocate” I know first-hand that the key to success for any advocacy cause is awareness. Simply put the more people talking about something the more attention it will attract (e.g., a video gone viral or hot issue on the political radar in the media). Unless you are personally affected not only do most people not even know what an ostomy is but they certainly don’t know how much this surgery can change lives for the better. A prime example of this is a person suffering for years with an irritable bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis who finally finds relief by having ostomy surgery. This is why it is crucial that we heighten consciousness around the globe to increase understanding of “ostomy”, remove feelings of embarrassment and eliminate fears so that ultimately when all other medical treatment options have failed more people will choose this surgery. Then more lives will be improved and saved.
I’m particularly excited this year’s theme is “Speaking Out Changes Lives”. What better way to raise awareness than to “speak out”? What better way to improve lives and make concerns known such as when a person has received poor quality of care, than to “speak out?” What better way to advocate for a dedicated national day of ostomy awareness than to “speak out”?
Do you know how to raise awareness? Think of the causes that you support. Look around you. Everywhere you turn there are reminders of one cause or another keeping issues alive and on people’s minds (e.g., Breast cancer started out as a simple pink ribbon symbol in 1982 and has now turned into a global sensation with all of the pink anything and everything that is available for purchase to raise research funds. Not to mention all that is done during the month of October and all year long for breast cancer awareness). There are many ways to raise awareness such as having a car bumper sticker or the widely popular Twibbons, but the best and simplest way is just….you got it…. “speaking out”. The growth of ostomy awareness is realized each time a person living with an ostomy shares his/her story. Each and every one of us has a powerful voice and together we can make a big impact. Learn more ways to raise awareness in UOAA’s toolkit “Be an Ostomy Champion”.
Here’s some of the ways UOAA is raising awareness for World Ostomy Day:
- Expanding our annual family-friendly Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k events across the country now in nine states (AL, AZ, ID, MI, NC, NJ, OR, PA or TN) as well as well as a worldwide Virtual Run/Walk. Hundreds of people will attend these events and even more will witness the event as people run the course.
- Promoting ostomy awareness year-round with a free “Ask Me: What is an Ostomy?” sticker for all those that register for the Virtual Run/Walk. This sticker can be put on cars, laptop covers, water bottles or any where you want to raise awareness. Help UOAA teach the world what an ostomy is!
- Encouraging more people to use our sample proclamation to get one passed in towns, counties and states across the country officially declaring Ostomy Awareness Day. In addition, NJ Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. has agreed to be the Primary Sponsor of a Congressional Resolution nationally recognizing Ostomy Awareness Day for the first-time ever!
- Sharing our special logo for World Ostomy Day and the use of dedicated hashtags for social media recognition: #WorldOstomyDay2018 and #OstomyDayUSA.
- Coordinating our very own 1st Annual Virtual Day on the Hill competition to raise ostomy awareness with lawmakers!
- Producing a very motivating “Speak Out” Campaign call to action video!
Please keep visiting our dedicated and frequently updated webpage to find more ways you can get involved in the celebration this year! And make a mental note to yourself that it doesn’t end on October 6th. Awareness can happen every day. We’re counting on to you to make it happen.