by Jennifer Bechard, HA Support Group Liaison
As you may or may not know, the Hydrocephalus Association started out as a support group, and providing support has remained one of our major services. When a person is first diagnosed with hydrocephalus, receiving high quality education and support can be critical. Education and support help people overcome their fear and prepare them to deal with the challenges of hydrocephalus.
The Hydrocephalus Association’s Support Groups are entering a new era of growth. There are three steps we need to take in order to move forward.
First and foremost, we need to strengthen our current groups. We will accomplish this by providing them the tools to lead a successful meeting; recreating a suggestion guide on types of meetings, furthering our promotions via e-mail and social media and supplying leaders with updated educational materials, business cards and flyers.
Second, we are expanding our search to find people who are both willing and ready to form and lead a Support Group in their community.
Third, we will provide training so that each individual can become an advocate and feel comfortable providing a forum for education about hydrocephalus.
The first words that often come out of a new attendee’s mouth are: “I have felt alone for so long.” Or, “I never knew an organization like this existed?” I ask myself, with over a million people with hydrocephalus nationwide, how is this possible?
Having hydrocephalus myself makes me more determined than ever to grow our support and advocacy program nationwide. The Hydrocephalus Association staff is full of committed, wonderful people and volunteers who are working around the clock to find new ways to promote hydrocephalus and involve medical professionals.
HA Support Groups are taking a new direction by not limiting their meetings strictly to individuals with hydrocephalus. Leaders are opening the doors to peers, siblings, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers who want to become knowledgeable about the condition. All we need is to take the time to encourage people to get involved in our support programs and help us spread awareness to others throughout their community and state. The idea is that people will become less perplexed by the term hydrocephalus; we need it to be recognized and talked about.
Within the last month we have added support groups in Nashville, TN, Richmond, VA and Minneapolis, MN. We also have several potential new Support Groups located in Maine, Miami, FL, Birmingham, AL and Washington DC.
Where will we be next? Are you interested in forming a Support Group? It’s simple, contact Jennifer@hydroassoc.com and we will send you a 2011 Support Group Guide. You are not alone!
If we come together, we will conquer all obstacles.