|Junior Committee Update|
Elderly. For most people that is the word that comes to mind when thinking about Alzheimer’s disease. Powerful. Passionate. These are the words that come to mind when people hear about young professionals advocating for Alzheimer’s disease. The Junior Committee (JC) is doing all it can to connect our (young!) faces to this disease, to show the community that those affected can be of any age.
In February we attended the 2010 Advocacy Day in Albany where we met with the staff of three NY Senators and two NY Assemblymen. At first it was daunting asking them to take actions for us. But with the guidance of Jed Levine, we realized that lobbying for a cause is our right as Americans, and telling our personal stories makes it more effective. By speaking up, demanding change and telling your story, anyone can be an advocate. And by speaking to enough people, you will eventually reach the ears of someone able to help make a difference.
We continued to speak out at the 2010 Action Summit in Washington, D.C. This conference brought together members from Alzheimer’s Association Chapters across the country, providing an opportunity to interact with other advocates. The first day and a half consisted of speakers, panels, workshops, and an extremely moving candle light tribute. The second evening all of the young advocates met to discuss the needs of our peer group. The youngest advocates were 11 and 13, speaking out on behalf of their mother (who has early onset).
The courage with which these young girls spoke inspired us to do the same the next day. When 600+ advocates flooded the Hill in purple sashes, we were overwhelmed with a sense that we were part of something really big. We had the opportunity to sit with NY’s Senator Gillibrand, share our stories, discuss the Association’s agenda and stress the importance of funding and increasing awareness. An unexpected personal extension of gratitude, praise and thanks from the Senator made an impression on our team. It filled us with incentive to continue knowing that we were acknowledged by those who can enact change in the government.
After meeting with the offices of a handful of other representatives from New York, we came home with a better understanding of what it means to be an advocate and what needs to happen to make further strides against this deadly disease. As a result, we have taken it upon ourselves to foster relationships with the New York offices of the representatives we met in order to continue to make our voice heard. Our goal in building these relationships is to create yet another platform for young people to get involved and make a difference.
No one survives Alzheimer’s disease. No celebrity can stand up in front of millions and say “I beat this.” For most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, it is impossible to fight for themselves. This is why the Junior Committee has decided to raise our voices! To speak on behalf of those who can no longer, and those that are too busy being caretakers! The Junior Committee is committed to spreading awareness and fighting for the well-being of our friends, family and loved ones. We are no longer simply young people who have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease, we are advocates!
— Marielle Mindlin and Julie Scherr
Junior Committee Advocacy Co-Chairs
The NYC Chapter needs advocates of all ages. Please sign up at www.alznyc.org/advocate.