Pam Oliver of Everett has been a daily advocate for her five-year-old son, Steve Jr., since he was born prematurely at 25 weeks weighing just over 3 pounds.
“Having a medically fragile son, I had a lot to say, but wasn’t sure how to say it and whom to say it to,” remembers Pam.
She got some concrete answers when she attended Advocacy Camp last year, where she took an interactive workshop on state government. This gave her an in-depth look at the legislative process and opportunities to ask detailed questions. Before this, says Pam, “I did not know that the average person could have a say in legislative issues.”
She was inspired by a media workshop and intimate Q&A with Seattle Times editorial writer Lynne Varner, whose message and personal story made Pam feel like she could rise to be a successful advocate, too. Pam received broad and one-on-one support in crafting her son’s experience into compelling testimony directed at legislators.
“Upon leaving Advocacy Camp, I had a newfound confidence,” she recalls. “I immediately started to contact my local legislators and U.S. Senator Patty Murray with the notes that I created at camp. When I got responses, I was even more encouraged.”
In February, Pam traveled to Olympia to speak with legislators about her son’s special health care needs in order to protect Apple Health for Kids. And in June, the state’s Health Benefit Exchange Board appointed her to be a consumer advisor to Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange.
What motivates her to be involved?
“My son has special needs – and we are African American. I want every child, regardless of race, ability, or income, to get what he needs. I want to ensure that federal health care reform helps families like mine – and all families. The more I learn, the more I realize how critical it is that people who are personally affected, like me, are involved and our voices are heard.”
Like Pam, you can put your passion to work for kids and make a powerful difference. Advocacy Camp can help you do it. Apply today!
*Photo above courtesy of Pam Oliver: Steve Jr., Pam, and Steve Sr. meet with their Senator Nick Harper in his Olympia office during the 2012 Legislative Session.