Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week is a campaign designed around elevating public awareness about child health practices, the work of children’s hospitals and policy issues impacting America's children.
The Children's Hospital Association uses Speak Now for Kids as a public platform for citizen advocates to learn, get involved and influence the outcomes of current child health policies throughout the year.
Patients from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and their families have been participating in Speak Now for Kids for years and like everything else right now, this year was a bit different. Traditionally one Gillette family would’ve traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with their locally elected officials in person.
For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen this year. But in a time where silver-linings may seem few and far between, when the campaign kicked off this week, virtual meetings allowed more Gillette families to have the opportunity to participate in the process and meet with the Minnesota Congressional Delegation.
The meetings with Members of Congress this week involved three patients and their families, where each of them got the time to share their own experiences and advocate for families like their own, everywhere. At Gillette, many of our parents and families get to know each other over time and this week gave our patient advocate families the chance to come together as a virtual Gillette community and advocate for children’s health.
Maddy Lavalier, 12, has spina bifida. She’s been treated at Gillette since she was an infant. But like all of our kids, her condition doesn’t define her. She’s got a big smile, a bigger personality and is a model for a Target clothing line in her spare time.
Michael Ruud, 15, has Apert syndrome and he and his family have consistently advocated for Gillette for years. In less strange times, he and his family visited Washington D.C. in 2018 as part of Speak Now for Kids to advocate for children and advance legislation for individuals who have pre-existing conditions.
Eli Brummond, 13, has fibular hemimelia and has received treatment at Gillette along with frequent adjustments for his leg prosthesis over the years. He’s also been an advocate for Gillette in the past, and has spoken at numerous events. He also snowboards, plays soccer and can run like the wind.
All of the patients and families who represented Gillette this past week told their own unique story. Their conditions vary, but if there was any through-line, it was that having a children’s hospital like Gillette has fundamentally changed their lives for the better.
The main goal and mission of Gillette is to give our patients the care and tools they need to reach their highest potential, and we’re very grateful to Maddy, Michael and Eli and their families for being willing to share their stories, along with the members of our Minnesota Delegation for taking the time out of their busy schedules to hear them.
In a time where everything feels a bit uncertain, advocating for our kids has never been more important.
If you have a child who has been treated at Gillette recently or in the past and would like to share your experiences, please like our Facebook page and reach out to us there.