Every day, members of the United Spinal community face unequal access or exclusion due to physical barriers and ineffective policies, practices, or procedures. When frustrations arise in healthcare, mobility, education, work or limitations in quality of life, through grassroots advocacy, your personal experience becomes the seed that can bring about necessary change.
What Is Grassroots Advocacy?
Grassroots advocacy is an awareness initiative generated by concerned individuals that builds a community of support both on the ground and online. People seeking a solution use their own voices to contact organizations or local, state, and/or federal legislators regarding an issue that affects them directly. As a grassroots advocate, each of us has an opportunity to ‘plant seeds’ of concern and cultivate the kind of attention and action that solves problems. By sharing a personal story of need, your own experience and effort are what nurtures a movement to grow, like grass, and affect change across the country.
Anyone Can Be a Grassroots Advocate
Grassroots advocates are members and allies of a directly affected community, like you and me. This means, anyone who is personally affected by an issue has the power to act as a grassroots advocate. Many believe this is strictly the job of direct lobbyists, or those who politically advise on behalf of organizations and maintain professional lobbyist credentials, but it is not. There are also patient advocates, who support individuals on a case-by-case level in a medical setting. Grassroots advocates, instead, voluntarily speak on behalf of themselves and others for local, state or national policy change.
Grassroots Advocates in Action
Planting Your Own Grassroots
When it comes to grassroots advocacy and addressing the barriers we face living with physical disabilities, we have to ask ourselves an important question: do I accept this or is there something I can do to make this situation better for myself and for others? If the answer is yes, it’s time to start planting your own seeds of change.
If you are interested in getting more involved with grassroots advocacy, speak with your United Spinal chapter’s advocacy representative and consider joining our Grassroots Advocacy Network: https://www.unitedspinal.org/grassroots-advocates-rolling-together/
— Brook McCall, MPH, United Spinal’s Grassroots Advocacy Manager