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5 Low-Key Arthritis Advocacy Moves

I grew up around a bunch of civic minded folks. The adults in my life took an active part in our community. Between helping people get to doctor's visits and other appointments they spent their time collecting food, clothing, and other supplies for food pantries and homeless shelters.

I enjoyed working alongside them at the rummage sales and fundraisers to support these projects, secure in the knowledge that we were making a difference. It makes sense that I’m a health advocate after watching my grandparents and their friends invest so much of themselves in our community.

They weren't wealthy, famous, or powerful, but this didn’t stop them from believing that their small sustained acts of public service counted for something. These days, I see that my grandparents were creating and using Social Capital.

What’s Social Capital?

Social Capital is the kind of thing that makes sense on an intuitive level, but isn’t usually mentioned. Social capital is the value or usefulness found in the relationships that help people and groups function.

What does it do?

Social Capital bonds people together around causes or ideals, bridges over distance and obstacles, and to links different parts of society together. Do you know somebody who always knows what’s happening and everything they do seems to thrive? I’ll bet that they’re swimming in Social Capital.

Why am I telling you this?

There has never been a better time for you to combine your social capital and health advocacy priorities. Online publishing and networking tools make it possible to match problems with the people and ideas that could solve them. The spondyloarthritis space is cool because our people go all out! They’re out here printing up their own shirts, cold calling researchers, and writing their own papers for conferences. That’s great. And we need lots more folks doing it!

Know any diamonds in the rough?

These are people who don't get the recognition and attention they deserve. They’re knowledgeable and do a great job, but have more to offer.

Here’s how to polish our diamonds

  • Flex your social capital muscle by using your existing relationships with groups to raise awareness of spondyloarthritis.
  • Make sure people know who your friends are. Elevating and praising the work of others is a good start.
  • Media engagement--make time to speak with reporters, writers, bloggers, and vloggers about arthritis. Sliding into their DMS works too. Keep a list of advocates you admire and introduce them to your media contacts.
  • Keep an eye on the money by sharing the dates of grant cycles and conference application deadlines, encourage talented folks to apply.

Be generous

Boost awareness months that don’t apply to you. These days, we’re all conscious of staying in our lanes, and letting folks tell their own stories, but that doesn't mean we can't speak up for each other. Partnering with colleagues working on other conditions is good for everybody. You’ll learn something and build relationships at the same time.

What’s your favorite way to build up other advocates?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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