Observing Infertility Awareness Month
Since the early 1990s, following the initiative of Resolve, Inc., infertility support organizations and allied medical, pharmaceutical and counseling professionals around the world have chosen a time during the month of October in which to focus on enlightening the general public and the media about infertility.
Not every infertility-touched family or professional or infertility-related support group has the time, the means, the budget, or the energy to mount a full campaign. Not to worry! Individuals can make an impact, too, and we've spent some time gathering ideas from members of internet list servers and newsgroups and bulletin boards for individuals or very small groups to plan some last minute Infertility Awareness Month observances for October, 1999. Contributors have included consumers and professionals. We'd love to see this list grow throughout the next year, so please send us your ideas and we'll add them!
Private, one-on-one acts that can make a real difference...
Take your parents or your siblings
or a good friend with you to an infertility conference. Help your extended family learn what they need to know about infertility and its alternatives.
This takes some personal risk taking, but be an infertility advocate for the day: write a letter concerning health care
, contact your company's human services department about infertility medical benefits. One voice can make a difference.
Take a member of your medical office's staff, your clergy person, a therapist, etc. to lunch! Thank them for their help in a time of crisis, but also let them know how they could better have prepared or supported you. Offer to help them work on a plan for improved services.
Offer your home to a family who may be traveling from their home elsewhere for treatment in your area. It will save them money on their travel expenses.
Infertility.about.com recommends that you take this time to explore some of the larger issues regarding infertility, like the ethics of technology-assisted family building, insurance issues, or other forms of bias. The more we all know about the "big picture", the greater the chances of breaking through the obstacles that stand in our way of achieving the families that we long for.
Also from infertility.about.com... think about the relationships around you and how they've been impacted by your journey. Is there anyone whom you think might benefit from a warm, explorative or informative talk about infertility? Any relationships that may need healing from some of the barriers that infertility and pregnancy loss can create? Sometimes it helps to talk with someone objective first, like a counselor or clergy, before having those talks with others; sometimes, all that needs to happen is an open heart and mind.
Stand up and be counted!
Send a donation to your favorite grassroots infertility activist organization--perhaps in honor of an especially sensitive professional, friend, or family member.
Stand up and be counted! Become a member of one or more of your favorite infertility advocacy organizations!
Be creative: Share a bit of yourself by submitting a personal piece for submission to your favorite newsletter.
Volunteer for your infertility organization's work. If you plan any public activity (lending itself to a slow news day photo opportunity) large or small, be sure to alert TV and print media about a week in advance. Last minute public actions that can make a genuine difference...
Individuals and small organizations may find it intimidating to consider being an advocate. But there are small things anyone can do to make a difference, even on short notice!
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about an infertility related medical or insurance issue that needs to be addressed in your state. Believe you are important and stand up and be counted.
Contact your house of worship and arrange to donate altar flowers one Sabbath in October "In Honor of Families Waiting for Children" or "In Celebration of this Congregation's Infertile
Families." (Suggest that each member of your support group do this same thing--reaching many congregations of differing faiths during the month.)
Local groups might plant a tree at a park or the zoo with a small plaque acknowledging families waiting for children
Buy a favorite infertility related book for a public or church or synagogue library. Individuals can buy single copies from any book source (remember when donating books that several infertility resource organizations SELL books. Buy from them when you can!) ISGs might consider buying multiple copies of the same book (at substantial discounts directly from the publisher) inserting a bookplate with contact info about the ISG and having members distribute them to area locations.
Donate a favorite book to your support organization's resources library.
Contact your local public library, local school library, a favorite bookstore, about helping them do an infertility book display. Ask for permission to add to it brochures on support groups, local resources, upcoming conferences. (Some library systems plan these displays many months in advance, but some local branches are more flexible. If you're too late for this year, reserve now for next year!)
Subscribe to an infertility-related periodical for your physician's waiting room, your hairdresser's dryer/waiting area, , women's centers, etc (and while you're at it, subscribe for a relative as a Christmas or Chanukkah present!)
Contact local radio stations and dedicate a song to those seeking and waiting for children. Some possibilities: Linda Ronstadt and Peabo Bryson's duet "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail, , or "From God's Arms, to My Arms, to Yours" (also known as "Maybe You Could Tell Your Baby") from Michael McLean's The Collection or One Heart in the Right Place albums .....
Have bumper stickers or buttons made "Infertility Awareness Month" and have members wear them to invite conversation.
Submit Infertility Awareness Month notices with contact info for local support groups to church bulletins, workplace and neighborhood newsletters, etc.
Contact local radio stations about taping a Public Service Announcement
Develop a one page cheaply photocopied informational flyer that can be distributed or posted on community bulletin boards in places where members/staff normally go anyway-- restaurants, health food stores, bookstores, church, groceries, banks, libraries, laundromats, etc.
Contact local bookstores about fundraising opportunities. Both Barnes and Noble and B Daltons will offer not-for-profit organizations a percentage of sales during a special fundraising day or week. Often volunteers from the group are asked to assist--be sure to bring brochures and wear those badges! Big Events for next year's Infertility Awareness Month (because they need 8-12 months or more of planning)...
Form a coalition of local, regional or state medical professionals, therapists, adoption agencies
and facilitators and attorneys, support groups, and other related organizations and do something from the list below together! Coalitions encourage greater dialogue and cooperation, command greater attention from the media, are more attractive to grantors and donors.
Seek sponsorship and participation from area family-friendly businesses (banks, grocery stores, insurance companies, etc.), local volunteer organizations (like Junior League, Kiwanis, Lions) and more. Ask local churches and synagogues to join your effort--perhaps one will donate space for your event.
Spend several months building a relationship with a local health or family issues reporter with the goal being an October Sunday section focused on positive and realistic infertility issues
Locate every electronic or manually changed "marquee" or announcement board in town (at hotel/motels, banks, theaters, schools, insurance companies, public utilities, etc.) and ask them to put a message on it about Infertility Awareness Month.
Hold an alternatives Information Fair with booths representing as many groups , medical offices, and agencies in your area as possible
Plan a workshop.If you've not done this before, you might find it simplest to use a single speaker for a half day or full day event where everyone is in a single general session. Remember that, while recognized "experts" can be a valuable addition--especially in that a recognized name can draw registrants and media attention--people who live infertility and its alternative family building options are the real experts--and that's you! With some experience and/or plenty of volunteer help, you could consider a multi-speaker event with several sessions going on each hour. Some broad topics or general themes for first timers to consider: Taking Charge of Infertility, How to Adopt
, Infertility over a Lifetime,
Hold a breakfast for your state legislators to explain infertility issues to them in a "captive audience" environment. Look for a local media person or politician who is part of the triad to help.
Plan a political special event-- a rally on the state capitol's steps, a march, a letter-writing campaign, etc.
Contact local or national TV talk shows about planning infertility-positive segments.
Establish (and publicize) an award to be given to an individual or a business or an organization in your community that has made a positive impact on families touched by infertility.
Sponsor a simple Infertility Information Night (featuring a panel of medical pros and some experienced consumers) in an underserved area of your state. Free and inexpensive meeting locations include library meeting rooms, bank conference rooms, etc.
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