I love seeing everyone's ideas for spreading awareness during Spina Bifida Awareness Month! Here's my little idea. It's quick and easy, and if all of us did it, it could reach a lot of people.
Let's all send a "letter to the editor" of our local newspapers. (See letter below.) We can't control what kinds of stories papers print, but they usually print letters to the editor as long as they fit the guidelines. If you receive your local newspaper, you will see instructions for submitting your letter. Or you can do like I did and go to the newspaper's web site and figure out how to submit a letter to the editor from there. Start by looking under the "Contact us" or "Opinion" sections for instructions.
Letters need to be kept pretty short so the paper can publish it, and so they won't cut it as much. You also must include your name and contact information, or they won't print it. To make this easier, I have written a template letter, below. Feel free to change it if you wish, but remember to keep it short. Just copy and paste this letter into the newspaper's form or in an email, and remember to fill in your contact information at the bottom.
Subject/Headline: Learn something about Spina Bifida in October
To the Editor:
October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect, affecting about one out of every 1,000 newborns in the United States.
What is Spina Bifida? It's a birth defect that results in the spinal cord protruding from a baby's back. The back can be surgically closed before or after birth, but damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis, hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), bowel and bladder issues, and other challenges.
What causes it, and how can it be prevented? No one knows what causes Spina Bifida, but women can reduce their risk by up to 70 percent by taking 400mcg of folic acid daily for three months prior to conception. Every woman of childbearing age should take a daily multivitamin.
What are people with Spina Bifida like? There is a wide range of outcomes. Some are barely affected, some are severely disabled, and most fall somewhere in between. Some use wheelchairs; others use braces, crutches, or walkers; and some walk independently. Most have normal intelligence. Spina Bifida is only one part of them and does not define them. They can become teachers, doctors, musicians, athletes, or anything they want to be.
What do you do when you see someone with a disability? Instead of looking away, make eye contact and smile. Instead of shushing children who ask questions about a wheelchair or other differences, encourage children to ask the person about it, or answer with: "Some people's legs don't work the same as yours, so they need help to get around." Emphasize people with disabilities are more like everyone else than they are different.
If you would like to learn more about Spina Bifida, visit www.spinabifidaassociation
Daytime phone number
Join in the Facebook event to report back with which newspapers you submitted your letter to!