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YOUR VOICE MATTERS: The Garden of Advocacy

By Amanda Woodson

The Amputee Coalition strives daily to build a vibrant network of advocates to advance the needs of the 2.1 million Americans living with limb loss and limb difference and the 28 million Americans at risk of experiencing limb loss. We also recognize this population will double by 2050. We believe the time to act is now to ensure support for those living with limb loss and limb difference. Growing your advocacy skills can be likened to growing a garden.

Step 1: Selecting Your Seeds

When growing a garden, you first must select the seeds for which type of plants you would like to grow. Each plant seed requires a different level of effort to ensure the desired outcome. Think of selecting your seeds as selecting your level of advocacy and its required amount of involvement. Are you someone just starting out in advocacy? You can start by joining Amputee Coalition’s quarterly all advocate calls, which are open to the public. Are you someone who would like to devote more time to advocacy? You can complete online training to become a lead advocate by visiting Lead advocates are volunteers who have completed training to build advocacy skills on issues impacting the limb loss and limb difference community. They are committed to developing relationships with their elected officials on behalf of our community as an Amputee Coalition volunteer. Are you someone who desires to advance your advocacy skills to the next level? You can also become a regional ambassador, a seasoned advocate who is looking to mentor new lead advocates and take on a leadership position.

Step 2: Planting your Seeds

After selecting your seeds, the next step is to plant them into the ground. Consider planting seeds as completing tangible steps to begin your advocacy journey. You could begin with completing an action alert by visiting Action alerts are ways to share your story with the world and your lawmakers. Contact Amputee Coalition’s Government Relations Team to ask questions and learn more about policy issues impacting the limb loss and limb difference community at We would be happy to connect you with other lead advocates and your regional ambassador.

Step 3: Nurturing your Garden

To have a successful garden, you must nurture it and water the plants so they can grow. Similarly, to become a successful advocate, you must take time to practice your advocacy skills. This could mean reaching out to your elected officials with an email, a phone call or an in-person visit, particularly during a congressional recess. Connecting with your lawmakers when they are back home in their districts and state helps to build and strengthen your relationship with them as their constituent.

Liberty Hyde Bailey, an American horticulturist and botanist who co-founded the American Society for Horticultural Science, once said, “A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” Likewise, the garden of advocacy requires the willingness to plant and nurture skills that can lead to becoming an effective advocate.

During Amputee Coalition’s 2022 National Conference, attendees will experience a variety of workshops highlighting ways to develop self‑advocacy skills and to get involved with national initiatives for advocating and advancing policies that support the limb loss and limb difference community.