I recently sat in a training meeting for a national advocacy organization that I am currently supporting, and I heard some advice that I’ve heard many times before, but this time, it struck me in a new way.
The advice was this: Tell your story.
If you want people in power to listen to you, you have to connect with them emotionally, and that is done in one way and in one way only: Tell your story.
I was reminded of an experience I had last January where I sat down with Khalilah Jones- the outreach and public relations coordinator for Moms in Motion- a service facilitation provider for Medicaid enrollees here in Virginia, where she interviewed me about my experience of being the primary caregiver for my daughter with disabilities, and also about the advocacy work I was doing around Appendix K.
That interview, which she later posted to YouTube, ended up being a powerful advocacy tool and a simple way that I could share my story with whoever expressed interest.
I had a link. A simple little link that I could send to someone in less than 30 seconds and it told the story about why my family needed legislative change.
So as I sat in that meeting recently, I thought, “Perhaps I could provide that opportunity for other people, either parents of children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, or quite frankly, anyone who is agitating for positive change in the world.
So, I set up a YouTube Channel for that purpose, and I’m calling it Warrior Stories- because I know that when you feel marginalized, when you feel incapable, when you feel lost, you feel like anything but a warrior.
But it is during our darkest moments when our warrior spirits are born. It’s the next morning when we get up and decide that we’re going to try. It’s when we can’t see the path in front of us, but we take that first step anyway. It’s when we speak up, even with shaky voices, and share our concerns. It’s when we write that e-mail or make that phone call, or stand on that picket line. It’s when we hold our babies through seizures and sensory processing meltdowns and in hospital recovery rooms. It’s when we stay up all night researching, and then dare to argue with doctors and therapists and IEP teams determined to get our children when they need and deserve.
These are the places where our Warrior Spirits are born. I don’t know anyone in this community that doesn’t need something to change- that doesn’t have a pressing issue weighing on their hearts, keeping them awake at night, and for most of us, we just need a chance to tell our stories. So if you, or someone you know, needs a platform where you can come and tell your advocacy story, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.