Summit- Day One






Even though Monday was a “short” day in Washington D.C. and the 2014 Advocacy Summit, that didn’t mean that we didn’t get a lot accomplished!

Registration was open beginning at 10 am, but programming didn’t start until 3, giving the 300 of us in attendance time to trickle in from all over the country.  Summit kicked off with a session highlighting “Research for a Cure,” by John O’Shea, MD Chief and Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch Scientific Director of the NIH & NAIMS. You can learn more about Dr. O’Shea and the research here. Following the presentation, parents attended an information session with their children for the Kid’s Summit, and had a short break just to recharge a bit before training began.

After the kids (k-8) were settled into their summit, the adults and high schoolers broke into 3 groups for preliminary training. First time attendees had their own session entitled “Advocacy 101.” Intermediates who had attended less than 4 summits attended an interactive training that simulated acting as a member of Congress. Since this is my second summit, this was the session that my older son and I attended while my younger son participated in the kid’s summit activities. The simulation was designed to provide insight into the high-pressure world of your congressman, and help advocates better understand the issues on the other side of the table. By simulating their experience, and getting personalized feedback after every round of decision making, we got a glimpse of the environment that our congressmen are operating within. Seeing things from their side helped us to target our approach for meetings on the hill coming up today and Wednesday. Knowing what factors might hold them back from getting aboard OUR cause is a valuable insight, and will help us be more effective in countering some of the arguments that may not even be verbalized in our meetings.  The third group included all the “advanced” attendees who had been to multiple summits. Christopher Kush of Soapbox Consulting led this group through a presentation on 5 introductions that would serve them well in a variety of advocacy situations.

After the evening trainings concluded, we attended one of the new features this year, a teen meet-and-greet. This was a semi-structured, informal session designed to allow the high school aged kids a  chance to socialize and meet other teens from around the country. Parents were invited as well, but separated into tables for adults so that we could have the opportunity to meet other parents with JA teens. I was excited to see this new session, as previously teens have been a little left out in programming, but have so much to say and do! Last year in our meetings on the hill, kids and teens stole the show more times than not, when allowed to share their very powerful stories. I was happy to see the Arthritis Foundation beginning to tap into their resource!

All these events made for a late night, and we are up early this morning. Breakfast programming starts in less than an hour, but I wanted to get a quick post off to let you all know what we are doing here in D.C., and hope that you will consider joining us next year. There is strength and power in numbers! Even if you can’t be here, you can still attend and make a difference through the Virtual Summit.  Click on the hyperlink, and you can see all the great pictures and tweets from advocates in attendance, but you can also click on one (or all!) of the three “TAKE ACTION” buttons to send a form letter to your congressman supporting our efforts here. Don’t forget!  Every action counts. Together, we can make a difference.


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