Advocacy Day: Using My Voice

Peter G. Asante, MD, FAAP
General Pediatrician / Hospitalist
Community Health of Central Washington
Seattle Children’s Hospital
Trustee, WCAAP

Arriving at the Capitol the morning of Friday, February 2nd, I felt intimidated. While we have all been told several times “you are an expert in your field,” I was more nervous for this meeting than the many others in the last year. This was my first Advocacy Day. I had been unable to attend in previous years. But I must confess: I was always somewhat relieved. As a resident, I never felt like I had the “expertise” people imbued me with. And the idea of sitting in front of someone I did not know, and asking for him/her to support something I deeply believed in –  the health and wellness of the youth I serve – felt deeply uncomfortable.

What I know after February 2nd is that Advocacy Day does not demand you assume the role of impassive expert witness. It demands that you are a compassionate storyteller. It demands that you listen and converse about the issues. It demands that you build relationships. These are skills we all possess – storytelling, conversation, relationship-building.

As I spoke with the legislators in my district, I realized:
1) My expertise comes from the many youth I have had the privilege of serving.
2) My expertise is grounded in the stories of suffering that in totality, compel me to think about how impactful structural changes in our system can moderate its effect.
3) My expertise is meant to be shared with those who do not have similar access to these stories, so that we can use our collective gifts to improve the quality of life of young people.

Legislative advocacy in healthcare cannot flourish without the coexistence of legislators and advocates. WCAAP Advocacy Day helped me realize that I have a role to play in using my voice as a child health advocate to elevate the struggles of the community I serve, and to bring that voice to the rooms where “it” happens, in hopes that my expertise can motivate ambassadors of my community to join me in making a difference. It was a privilege to share this expertise with my local State representatives.

Eighty-five pediatric health care providers from more than 30 legislative districts around the state attended WCAAP Advocacy Day on February 2. As a result of those meetings, we are seeing traction on our priorities, including addressing the Medicaid rate. We are grateful to those who attended, as well as to all of you for reaching out to legislators when you are able to do so. It truly makes a difference! View photos on Facebook:

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