Change our world through advocacy
I remember my son attending a local mayor’s budget meeting when he was in high school, to the surprise of all the “regulars” – adults who couldn’t figure out why a teen would be there. Just watching the civic process can remind us why it’s great to be an American, but jumping in with your voice or exercising your power of the pen (ok, keyboard) is even better.
The epilepsy support community just wrapped up an important month of advocacy. The Epilepsy Foundation’s Public Policy Institute culminated with Kids Speak Up!, a program that allows teens with epilepsy to share their stories with lawmakers in our nation’s capital. But you don’t have to go all the way to Washington to experience firsthand the thrill of civic participation.
If there’s a need you’ve identified and a solution you’d like to propose, then write a short, focused letter to your Mississippi or U.S. senator or representative. Everyone has a role in making things better! Here are some tips to make this simple action truly simple:
1. Write a note that includes a sentence about the issue. For example, “School personnel who are trained should be able to administer emergency medication to students having dangerously long seizures.” (This was a California senate bill supported by a letter-writing campaign.) Include why the issue is a problem and why your proposed remedy could help the situation. Add who you are and why this is important to you. That’s all. As few as four sentences. Shorter actually is better.
2. Find the address of your senator or representative at one of these online address books. U.S. senators from Mississippi listing includes email and U.S. mail options. The U.S. representative directory allows you to enter your ZIP code to find your member of Congress. Mississippi officials directory contains mailing and email information for all state senators and representatives alphabetically.
3. Send your note via email, if you know that’s the only way you will make it happen. But a stamped letter, whether handwritten or typed, really stands out. So print your note and stick a forever stamp on an envelope. You’ll be forever glad you made the time to get personally involved.
4. Share the letter with others who might be encouraged to send their own letters. Multiple letters really get your lawmaker’s attention and emphasize that this isn’t just one person’s cause but a widespread issue with support to make positive change.
What do you think? Go to our Facebook page and share thoughts about issues that your local, state or federal officials should address.
How can you take action? When it comes to writing letters, I find that having all the tools makes the task much more doable. Get the address, gather an envelope and stamp, then jot down a quick draft. You’ll soon realize that the entire effort, start to finish, takes less than 30 minutes. Isn’t it worth half an hour to make progress toward what’s important to you?