This week is National Volunteer Week – a week dedicated to celebrating YOU, our tireless volunteers who have risen to the challenges of the past year. Even though the pandemic presented us with many obstacles, it also gave us new opportunities for creativity and ingenuity.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation volunteers have stepped up in so many ways over the last year. One group of volunteers that has taken the new virtual landscape in stride is the St. Baldrick’s Speak Up for Kids’ Cancer network – our phenomenal network of advocates across the United States who raise these voices together to effect policy change for kids with cancer and childhood cancer survivors.
Advocates have always had certain digital tools at their disposal, from social media to online platforms for writing to their elected officials. However, the signature event for St. Baldrick’s advocates has historically taken place in person.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation co-chairs the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, a coalition of patient advocacy groups, healthcare professionals, and scientific organizations who represent millions of Americans who care deeply about childhood cancer. For nearly a decade, the Alliance hosted Childhood Cancer Action Days in person in Washington, DC to give advocates the opportunity to speak with their members of Congress and their staff to advocate for important childhood cancer issues. Action Days builds awareness for childhood cancer among elected officials and leads to meaningful policy victories, like the passage of the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill in history.
Unfortunately, Action Days 2020 was cancelled, but advocates still found a way to make policy progress for kids with cancer. After a successful Virtual Day of Action in September and countless emails and phone calls from advocates to Capitol Hill, Congress set aside $80 million for new childhood cancer research initiatives – an especially tremendous achievement given all the challenges of 2020!
Building on last year’s successes but also keeping the ongoing challenges of the pandemic in mind, the advocacy community is getting creative in 2021 with a virtual way to advocate. The Alliance for Childhood Cancer is hosting Action Day 2021 virtually next week. More than 250 advocates will meet with their congressional offices on April 27 to advocate for more funding for childhood cancer research. Even though Action Day looks and feels different this year, our message is the same: kids with cancer and childhood cancer survivors are counting on Congress to act.
One of the great benefits of advocating virtually is that anyone can get involved. Even if you are not participating in meetings with congressional offices on April 27, you can email your elected officials or share messages on social media to support Action Day 2021.
To learn more about advocacy opportunities for Action Day 2021, sign up for the Speak Up network today!
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