Hepatitis B Foundation Intern and Guest Blogger Limi Lo shares her personal reflection of last week’s advocacy event when hepatitis B partners and advocates stormed Philadelphia City Council
A few months ago, I was sitting in my public policy class learning about advocacy. In simple English, it means, “to fight for a cause that you believe in.” As much as I understood what it meant, I never thought I would take part in a real advocacy event until I attended the City Council resolution presentation on May 8th, 2014. The event was held at the Philadelphia City Council during a city council session, and included supporters from Hep B United Philadelphia (lead by the Hepatitis B Foundation), HepCAP, and Philadelphia County Medical Society. Together, supporters came out and advocated for better viral hepatitis care in the greater Philadelphia area. City Councilman David Oh had introduced a resolution declaring May as Hepatitis Awareness Month and calls for all high-risk Philadelphians to receive appropriate testing and proper care for viral hepatitis.
The event not only provided me with a valuable learning experience, but more importantly, it was a life changing experience. I was able to witness community partners, students, professors, and other advocates coming together to help raise awareness and fight for a substantial cause (to improve hepatitis care). There were dozens of posters held high and being displayed: “Be proactive, get tested today”, “know more hepatitis”, and “Give hope to your family”. These messages were inspirational in addressing the need for city leaders to pay greater attention for the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis. Throughout the event, the atmosphere was filled with positive energy and a sense of hope was tangibly present—a hope that, in Philadelphia, all high-risk individuals can access screening tests, vaccines, and care for viral hepatitis.
Since beginning my practicum with the Hepatitis B Foundation, I’ve gained a variety of hands-on experience to raise community awareness, such as through screening events, providing linkage to care and now, participating in public health advocacy. I am grateful to be working with passionate and motivated individuals that want to make a difference in their community. Although, there is still much work to get done in improving the care for viral hepatitis, I can already feel the positive impact we are making as a community. The City Council event was a major stepping stone in advocating the cause at a local level and it was a huge success. I know in the near future, more and more people will become aware of the hepatitis issue and attention will be brought up to the federal and state level. But until then, let’s all be heroes and help save lives through advocacy.
What a great hepatitis B awareness raising event for the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) and Hep B United Philadelphia (HBUP). The event took place at on the “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Participants including student volunteers, community leaders and health care professionals were dressed in their super hero t-shirts and red capes for their run up the steps to raise HBV awareness.
Hep B Heroes joined Philadelphia Councilman David Oh as he presented a city council resolution to eliminate Hepatitis B in the City of Philadelphia.
A special guest appearance was made by HBF’s own mascot, O’Liver B Hepatitis. In the past, O’Liver has appeared at numerous public events, and he was thrilled to step up and raise HBV awareness on the Rocky Steps.
Multicultural dancers get a thumbs up from O’Liver as he and other participants enjoy their performance on the steps.
“B a hero!” is not simply a slightly-cheesy-yet-very-awesome campaign theme and slogan. It is a statement that we stand behind and strive for. It is about having the courage to stand up for the disenfranchised among us. It is about taking the time and effort to improve the lives of those we could have easily ignored. It is about not just doing the right thing, but going above and beyond.
Over 900 people. That’s the number of people we provided free hepatitis B screening tests for within just the past 12 months. The screening tests were offered at 17 different events that took place all around the city.
Over 70 organizations. That’s the number of partners we currently work with to serve the community and empower the underserved. Besides hosting screening events, our partners also help us raise awareness through education, provide in-language patient follow up service for linkage to care, connect us with new partners, and many more aspects of our work in the community.
Over 30 vaccine clinics. That’s the number of vaccine clinics we will have held in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at community sites by the end of 2013. By hosting the clinics at community sites, we remove the transportation and language barriers and make vaccines much more accessible for community members.
The list of accomplishments goes on. And all of this became possible because Philadelphia, as a city, has decided to “B a hero”. So get involved this May and help us celebrate the Hepatitis Awareness Month by coming out to one of our events. Come and support heroes everywhere in our fight against hepatitis B.
Friday, May 17
Hepatitis B Awareness & Media Event
11:30am-12:15pm @ Rocky Steps (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy)
Join us in celebration of Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by running up the Rocky Steps with us! All participants get a “B a hero” t-shirt and a cape. City Councilman David Oh will present a city council resolution, and a surprise performance will take place when we reach the middle level of the steps.
Saturday, June 1
Independence Dragon Boat Regatta
8am-5pm @ Schuylkill River (Kelly Drive, near St. John’s Boathouse)
Come cheer for team Philadelphia Hep B Heroes as well paddle our way to victory! The regatta is a family event with lots of entertainment such as cultural performances, rock climbing, and of course the exciting dragon boat races. So visit the Hepatitis B Foundation/Team Philadelphia Hep B Heroes tent for some snacks and cheer for our heroes.
Saturday, May 11
Hepatitis B Screening & Mini Health Fair
10am-1pm @ AmeriCare Pharmacy (600 Washington Avenue, Unit 18E, Philadelphia)
May Hepatitis Awareness Month would be incomplete without a screening event. In collaboration with the Jefferson Medical College APAMSA medical students and the AmeriCare Pharmacy, we will be providing free hepatitis B screening tests for those who were born in Asia or whose parents were born in Asia. Additional service such as blood pressure and blood glucose measurements will also be available at this event.