“Advocacy is the efforts and struggles of one person or a group of individuals to take action. Activism can bring social change.”
This quote is from my mom. She was reminiscing about her life, and she mentioned that she fights for what she believes in, and often volunteers to help others. My mom always possessed a practical, no-nonsense attitude. She is the personification of a hip 80 year-old, but she reminds me often that growing up during the Depression gives her an edge of realism. Her mind is as sharp as a tack, so even at her advanced age, she’s truly light years ahead of her pack. Even though I am a middle-aged mom with children in their 20’s, my mom is still a voice of reason.
Since Mom’s body is not as sprite as her intellect, she walks and walks to keep fit. As she was preparing for a trip to visit relatives in Europe earlier this summer, Mom tells me, “I’m walking longer everyday to get ready for the trip. When I want something bad enough, like staying healthy, I become an advocate for it. I’m fighting to keep my mobility. As long as I can still breathe, there’s always something worth fighting for.”
When I was a teacher, I shared my mom’s vision of advocacy. When a parent came to me with the notion their child had been wronged by the system, I would say, “I will help you, but you are your child’s best advocate. No one else can fight their battles like you can.” When they also wanted to change the system, I would tell them to find others who share their concerns and then fight for what they believed in.
Whether advocating for our health, our children, or the environment, advocacy and activism are handy words. In my latest advocacy project, The Moms Clean Air Force, I’ve discovered there are three ways to put advocacy into action:
3 Steps To Effective Advocacy
1. Present clear reasons for your requests: Being clear with yourself and others drives your mission forward.
2. Provide accurate and helpful information: Know the facts and be ready to defend what you believe in. Be the voice of reason (like my mom).
3. Share what you know with others for support: Get out and rally the troops.
When mom came home from her trip abroad, she was immensely proud that she had kept up with the rest of the family. She chided, “You just need to advocate for what you want and then go out and get it.”
What do you advocate for? Please share your thoughts about advocacy and activism.