I am an advocate. Are you?
What does it mean to be an advocate? As an OAC member, I am often asked this. Being an advocate means having a voice and using it. In the world of obesity, using your voice is so very important, because if you have the self-confidence, you will be speaking for the thousands of those who don’t have the self-confidence to speak out. Those who are silent are the ones who live with the belief that they deserve discrimination, they deserve to be treated badly and not given the same opportunities as others, because they feel they are complete failures. We speak for those who don’t deserve to be treated “less than,” but often believe that they do.
As a bariatric surgery patient, I know first-hand what it’s like to look at that metaphorical mountain of weight-loss in front of you and say, “Okay, I am going to do this. I am going to succeed. I will not give up.” Battling obesity is not just physical. If you’ve ever battled weight, you know this all too well. Joining the OAC only further enhanced one of my strongest inner beliefs about battling obesity. There were other people just like me – people battling weight, bias, health issues and more. But, I started to notice something else as well. Everyone, including myself, wanted to do more. After all, that’s why we joined the OAC. We wanted that sense of “strength, togetherness and power.” We wanted the ability to impact and enforce change and there is no better way to do this than through advocacy.
To be an advocate means to speak your mind, help others and impact positive change. Can you be an advocate? ABSOLUTELY! Being an advocate is actually quite easy. Essentially, it’s telling your story to decision makers. Nobody knows your battle with obesity better than you. You’ve lived it. Telling your story for the first time to decision makers, elected officials and more can be a little intimidating. But, that’s where the OAC comes in and for the first time ever, YOU can train to be an advocate one-on-one with actual legislators.
On October 25, 2012, the OAC will be hosting an Advocacy Training day during the Your Weight Matters Inaugural Convention. This is a special event with limited availability to the first 100 interested Convention attendees.
The training will take place from 12 pm to 5 pm and completely run the advocacy gamut. You’ll start off learning the “ins and outs” of advocacy and finding out what the crucial points of advocacy are. Ever wonder how a bill becomes a law? Don’t worry, we’re going to show you!
Once you’re fully trained, you will then get to flex your advocacy muscles with an actual legislator! Yes, you read that correctly. You will be advocating for the rights of those affected with a real legislator. And the experience doesn’t stop there, after you’ve worked with staffers and legislators, we’re going to show you even more ways you can advocate. From writing letters to spreading the word about the OAC, we’ve got you completely covered. By the time 5 pm arrives, you will be ready to head to Capitol Hill and take on DC!
I strongly encourage you to take part in this incredible one-of-a-kind experience. To learn more about the Advocacy Training session, please click here.
Barbara Thompson, MLS, Immediate-Past OAC Chairperson