On May 11, 1989, President George Bush (Sr.) signed Presidential Proclamation 5975 designating May as National Stroke Awareness Month. Every year since, National Stroke Association has observed the month by raising awareness about stroke. Last year, the Stroke Advocacy Network asked members of Congress to help raise awareness by making public statements about stroke.
This year, we urge you to ask your members of Congress to raise stroke awareness through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Since many members of Congress are active social media users with broad subscriber bases, including other members of Congress and elected officials, their postings can have a huge impact. And while you’re asking your members of Congress to post, don’t forget to raise awareness on your own social media platforms and re-tweet or re-post when your members of Congress speak out.
How do you get your members of Congress to post information about stroke on their social media accounts in May? Look them up on your favorite social media platform. Follow them and send them a message about stroke risk factors, warning signs and other stroke-related information. Ask them to use their social media reach to raise stroke awareness in the communities they represent. Use the hashtag #StrokeAwareMay when referring to National Stroke Awareness Month on Twitter in May.
State legislatures in California, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio and Tennessee are considering legislation on stroke-related topics.
California Governor Edmund Brown’s budget proposal for the 2012-2013 fiscal year eliminates all state funding for caregiver resource centers (CRCs). CRCs provide supportive services for caregivers of people with brain injuries, including mental health support, respite, legal advice, support groups and education programs. CRCs serve approximately 12,000 caregivers across California and many more are on waiting lists for various services.
The issue now moves to the California State Legislature, where its members will develop and consider their own version of the state budget. If you live in California, contact your state legislators today and ask them to preserve funding for CRCs. The Stroke Advocacy Network has made this easy—just respond to the Action Alert on this topic. Let California state legislators know how important these services are to caregivers in their state!
Kentucky and Alabama
Legislation has been introduced in Kentucky and Alabama that seeks to improve stroke response and treatment—to give stroke patients a better chance at survival and recovery. The bills would create a statewide stroke registry to maintain information about strokes that occur throughout the state. This information will enable healthcare professionals to identify a baseline for stroke response and treatment and determine what can be done to improve the quality of care provided to stroke patients. Because time is critical during a stroke, every effort to improve how healthcare providers respond to and treat stroke patients is important.
Kentucky’s bill was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear. National Stroke Association wrote to Gov. Beshear asking him to sign the bill.
Alabama already has a statewide registry established for trauma. H.B. 517 would expand that registry system to include stroke. This bill has passed the House and is being considered by the Senate. If you live in Alabama, contact your state senator today and ask him or her to support H.B. 517—to give stroke patients a better chance at survival and recovery. The Stroke Advocacy Network has made this easy—just respond to the Action Alert on this topic!
The Ohio General Assembly is working on legislation to designate May as Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Senate Bill 260 (S.B. 260), introduced by state Senator Larry Obhof (R-22), currently has 38 co-sponsors. Co-sponsoring a bill is a way that legislators can show their support for the bill before they have the opportunity to vote on it. S.B. 260 has passed the Senate and is moving through the House of Representatives.
If you live in Ohio, contact your state representative and ask him or her to support S.B. 260. Your representative can support the bill by becoming a co-sponsor and voting for it. To find out who represents you in the Ohio House of Representatives and get their contact information, visit the Find Your Legislators page of the Stroke Advocacy Network website. Once there, just type in your zip code and push the “GO” button. Once your list of federal legislators appears, push the “Show All” tab to expand the list to include your state legislators (they will appear below the federal legislators).
House Bill 440 (H.B. 440) would have required a special committee to review the state services provided to survivors of traumatic brain injuries in Tennessee. This review would have identified what services the state could provide to help survivors access therapy services and return to work, decrease survivors’ need for government assistance, educate families and educate businesses about how they can help survivors return to work. Unfortunately, the Tennessee General Assembly adjourned without passing H.B. 440. Thus, the special committee will not be convened.
Interested in learning about other state stroke-related legislation? The Stroke Advocacy Network plans to expand efforts to track stroke-related bills on the state level in the weeks to come. What’s happening in your state? Stay tuned!
There are many ways you can advocate for policies and programs that help the stroke community. One is to ask legislators who currently represent you to support pro-stroke legislation. But in an election year, another advocacy opportunity becomes available. You can also support a pro-stroke agenda by ensuring the people elected to Congress and state legislatures understand and support the needs and challenges of the stroke community. People who are educated about or have been affected by stroke can be important allies for a pro-stroke legislative agenda once they’re in office.
How can you affect who gets elected? The obvious answer is by voting. But much more goes into elections than just voting. Join us for a webinar called Grassroots and the Elections on Friday, May 11, 2012, from 2-3 p.m. EDT. Regardless of your political perspective, this webinar will show you how you can make a difference this election season. Learn how to identify candidates friendly to stroke-related issues, host a small campaign event, engage in voter registration drives and other critical activities to be sure people who understand stroke issues get in to office. Register today!
The Stroke Advocacy Network wants to help you take your advocacy journey to the next level. Here are three options for community-based activities that can help you increase your influence as an advocate.
Attend a Town Hall Meeting
Every few weeks, your members of Congress come back to their districts during “district work periods” to connect with constituents. The next district work period is May 21-25. This is a prime opportunity to attend their community meetings and raise the issue of stroke awareness. Find out when your legislators are holding public meetings by calling the closest district office. You can find out who represents you in Congress and get their contact information on the Find Your Legislators page of our website.
When attending a meeting, plan to arrive a few minutes early or stay a few minutes late so you can meet and talk with the legislator or his or her staff. Legislators are always looking for valuable resources in the community and your personal knowledge about the needs and challenges of the stroke community makes you a perfect resource for stroke-related issues!
Invite a Legislator to Visit
When members of Congress are in town for district work periods, consider putting together a site visit. Site visits educate legislators and their staff about a particular topic, such as the needs and challenges of the stroke community. If you’re affiliated with a rehabilitation center, primary stroke center or other facility that cares for stroke survivors or you facilitate a stroke support group, consider extending an invitation to your members of Congress. These events help legislators see firsthand how their decisions will positively (or negatively) impact their constituents. The Stroke Advocacy Network has developed a tool to walk you through the process of setting up a legislative site visit.
Use Social MediaMembers of Congress are using social media more than ever to communicate with their constituents. But remember, you can use this communication method to communicate with them as well. You can build positive relationships by “liking” your legislators on Facebook, following them on Twitter and watching their floor speeches on YouTube. And if they do something you like, say something nice! Very often, legislators only hear from the people who don’t like the action they’ve taken or the vote they’ve cast. Positive reinforcement lets your legislators know they have support for those actions and votes in the community.
National Stroke Association has many programs that help different groups within the stroke community. Here are some of those programs and how you can participate in them.
Community Action Day—May 23, 2012
Community Action Day is a designated day of action during National Stroke Awareness Month. Members of the stroke community are encouraged to participate by raising funds and awareness on May 23—online and through local events and activities. National Stroke Association has tools and ideas for getting involved, no matter your reach and abilities.
Join or Start a Stroke Support Group
Talking with other stroke survivors or caregivers who understand what you’re going through can help you during the recovery process. Stroke support groups can also help connect you to local services and provide general support, social opportunities, educational programs and group therapy. There are a wide variety of support groups for stroke survivors and caregivers—find a stroke support group that fits you. If there is no group in your area, National Stroke Association can provide you with tools and information to help you start one, and don’t forget to register your new group with us so we can make sure other stroke survivors in your area know how to find it. If you’re a caregiver, visit Careliving—our online support group for people caring for stroke survivors.
Five Faces Pledge: Pledge to Save Lives
Take National Stroke Association’s Five Faces Pledge and share lifesaving information about stroke with five people you care about.
Knowing how to recognize and respond FAST to a stroke can save a life. Make sure your friends and family are armed with the knowledge they need to combat stroke this May during National Stroke Awareness Month. Take the pledge.
The Raising Awareness in Stroke Excellence (RAISE) Awards recognizes exemplary individual and group efforts to raise awareness about stroke. The goal is to not only recognize our current stroke heroes but also inspire and encourage future community leaders to follow in their footsteps. If you know a person, group or program that has raised stroke awareness in an exceptional way, nominate them for a RAISE award. Nominations will be accepted through July 31, 2012. Award winners will be announced in October. Learn about the award categories and submit a nomination.
Supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Inc., and The Medtronic Foundation.