Building Bridges for Awareness: Contest Winners & Ideas

  • You are all brilliant!


    We asked you to enter your ideas about raising awareness of RA for our Amazing Awareness Contest in May. And we were overwhelmed by your creativity and passion. Thanks to you, our community will now have a blueprint for change to consult when looking for suggestions of what they can do to change the way others see our disease. More on those suggestions in a moment. First, I need to announce the winners of the contest.


    First place winner, $275 Visa gift card: Rain Dancer. Her idea is to “create a set of informational ‘FAQ’ pictures [about RA] (each with text description and website link for more information) … the images and info can be shared freely by everyone, across all mediums so that more and more people across the internet learn a little more about rheumatoid arthritis every day."

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    Second place winner, $150 Visa gift card: StacyR. She plans to educate the people she meets in her everyday life by giving information about RA and sharing her experience of the disease. "If I can put a face to RA and educate the people around me, that awareness will spread."


    Third-place winner, $75 Visa gift card: Angie. She is "using conversation as a marketing technique. It gets people to open up about their stories and raises their curiosity." And she wants to speak to anyone who'll listen, including her colleagues in the healthcare field and our elected representatives.


    Congratulations to this year’s winners! You will be contacted by Allison Tsai, the producer of HealthCertral’s RA site, with details on how to claim your prize.


    But There’s More…

    We asked you to leave a comment answering this question:


    How will you take action to build bridges and increase awareness of RA?


    We asked you for big ideas and small ideas. Ideas that would be easy to do for people who don't have a lot of energy, as well as ideas for those who are able to do more. This would ensure that there was a range of suggestions so that everyone who wanted to get involved, could do so. And you left comment after comment with just that: great ideas. Clever, creative ideas by passionate people. In fact, many of you got so passionate that you forgot about the 200 word limit! Unfortunately, this meant that some entries did not qualify for inclusion in the contest. However, the ideas were still terrific and are included in the list below.


    Your Blueprint for Awareness

    Several of you posted reminders that you can’t educate others unless you yourself know the information you're sharing. GJordan said “RA awareness must start by first educating yourself about your disease.”


    Once you have your facts straight, start with the people in your immediate circle. Lgl_Asst suggests asking questions to "find out if they have a friend or loved one that suffers from another type of auto-immune disease like MS, lupus, type I diabetes." This means the person to whom you're speaking already has some information out of these types of diseases. Cheryl uses "the spoon theory to explain to family and friends how I feel and what I'm going through."


    Connecting with others who have RA to share information and support was a very important factor in numerous entries. Reni emphasizes that "we need to take steps forward together." Kimberly formed "a group of people with multiple symptoms like myself and [who] were willing to join me in creating a multisystem support group to bring awareness to more than anyone's singular arthritic disease." Kadi223 has "created a Facebook page and website to share … knowledge and to bring together other people with RA." Brenda hopes "to be able to create a network of like-minded individuals and eyechkr wants "to make the lives of those challenges are much happier ones, simply by giving them the love and support they deserve."

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    Participating in fundraising efforts, particularly the Arthritis Walk, was also an important part of many entries. GJordan committed to forming “’Orly’s Legacy’ to walk in next year’s walk, in honor of my great aunt who was completely crippled from RA.” Peggy P and her friend Brigid created a Facebook group called Squeaky Joints and have Arthritis Walk teams all over the country. ChristineG is planning for the future and thinks that an arthritis version of Relay for Life could help make people aware “of the impact arthritis has on so many different age groups.“

    Reaching out beyond one's family and friends and the RA community involved social media for many. Blondie128 wants to raise awareness by posting "articles and info on Facebook." E.Ivy has "tweeted different celebs on Twitter asking them to please RT for awareness."

    Connecting to other organizations and media was also mentioned. ChristineG would like to see ads with profiles of different people at different ages who live with different kinds of arthritis. She thinks it's important that these ads are "not the typical picture of a retired couple that you see for every arthritis-related commercial." E.Ivy tried “to get Google to create the Google image with a large spine on it for Awareness month."

    Advocating with elected representatives and government was also high on the agenda. Angie says she plans "to start e-mailing and calling my representatives.” Brenda has already been advocating with her senators and congresspeople and hopes "to become a model advocate for my home state.”

    We want to thank everyone who submitted their ideas for helping to create a go-to list of suggestions for raising awareness in many different ways. We hope you will use it as inspiration and a springboard for action in your own life – when you’re ready. Remember that the key is, as Leslie stated, to "start small, be persistent." Do what you can, when you can. If most of your energy is spent getting through the day, wait until you're feeling better. This is a team effort - we're all working together and there is no pressure to do more than you can. Heather reminded us that everyone has unique abilities - some are good at public speaking and working in government advocacy, some are more comfortable with one-to-one advocacy. The most important thing, she said, is that "together, we create a bridge."


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    Lene is the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View.



Published On: June 22, 2012