When you are encouraged to communicate, excited about a mission, and are able to visit with your local policymakers a difference has and will continue to be made. Talking with your legislators and keeping them informed of current issues are keys to a successful visit.
Don't Be Afraid
Legislators and their staff meet with regular citizens every day. Legislators want and need to hear from you, no matter their position or political affiliation. Remember, you're an expert on your own story and how the issues impact you.
Get to Know Your Legislators
Meeting one on one with your public officials is your right as a citizen. But this is just a first step. you can build an ongoing relationship with your pubic officials and keep them updated on MS issues.
Be prepared so you can confidently update legislators and their staff on MS issues, and boldly ask for their support. If talking points aren't provided on the issues, draft your own. Spend time practicing beforehand, on your own, or with your group.
Understand the Issues and Your Legislator's Position
Stay informed on MS issues and your legislator's positions on those issues. Check their voting record and committee assignments. Understand the opposing position on each issue.
You Don't Have to Know All the Answers
No one expects you to have all the answers. It's most important to know how the issues impact you personally. If you're asked something you don't know the answer to, use it as an opportunity to follow-up later.
Share Your Personal Story
Share your personal story. It is the most compelling reason you have for the need to support MS issues. Start your conversation with a public official by sharing your personal experiences with multiple sclerosis and how the issue has impacted you, then ask for the support or change you need.
Advocacy is a lot of fun. So enjoy yourself. You are moving us closer to a world free of MS.
Remember to Follow-Up
Be sure to follow-up. Send a thank you note. Maintain a conversation and continue to keep legislators and their staff updated on the issues. Do this throughout the year. Schedule a follow-up visit, or invite them to a chapter event. This is important for establishing an ongoing relationship.