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Change and Challenge Provides Opportunity and Access: A Message from the President and CEO

May 29, 2020 |

Are you growing tired of the phrases “our new normal” and “in these challenging times”?  We are, too.  When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, like everyone, we had to rapidly change our operations to keep our community and staff safe.  Now that we have a clearer understanding of how things need to operate for the foreseeable future, we’re hopeful about how we’ll be able to serve even more people living with limb loss and limb difference.

Isolation and loneliness are very real issues that have an impact on an individual’s health and well being. When it comes to peer support, we’re seeing our volunteers reaching out and connecting in new ways to help people feel less alone and more connected to others who have a shared experience.

  • Our Certified Peer Visitors can meet with amputees and caregivers by phone, email, text, or videoconference. The Amputee Coalition Support App allows for smooth connections, and opens up access to those who might not have a Certified Peer Visitor in their local geographic area.  Now, Peer Visitors can be that supportive friend and counsel for anyone in our community who needs to talk anywhere in the U.S. It’s also important to note that you don’t have to be new to the community to request a CPV.
  • Now that we’re meeting online or using a phone call network, Support Group Leaders have been able to open their groups to individuals who didn’t have an in-person group in their area. This means more people get the chance to check in on one another and talk about their shared experience, how they’re feeling, and share resources and ideas with one another.

When it comes to larger community events and gatherings, the health and safety of our community comes first. That focus has driven some significant changes. First, we transitioned our Advocacy Forum from an in-person meeting to an online event and campaign that’s generated nearly 700 outreach messages to Members of Congress — our largest impact ever.  Newcomers to advocacy were able to participate from home and learn about policy issues without having to invest in a plane ticket and other travel costs.

Then, we changed our plans to move both the Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp and our National Conference to virtual experiences.  Yes, there is magic and connectedness when we all get together in person … but, virtual and online meetings and programs remove barriers — both physical and financial — and allow more people to participate, feel included, learn more, and make long-lasting connections.

We have been working very closely with our Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee, our Education and Conference Committee, our Board of Directors, and community members on all our programs so that we can ensure we’re meeting the needs of our community in the best, most inclusive ways possible as we all adapt.

Change is hard. And, just when you think you’ve had enough challenges, more finds its way into our lives and requires us to alter the way we thought things were supposed to be. But this is a community that not only rises to the challenge, we use it to find new ways to be even more connected and to support one another.

I have talked with so many people in our community about the challenges the pandemic health and safety guidelines have presented them and how their resilience has been tested. If you’ve felt that way, you’re not alone.  With encouragement and support, we want to help you thrive.

Our National Limb Loss Resource Center® staff is here for you: it’s a free call to 888-267-5669 extension 1, or you can fill our this short online form to have someone get in touch with you.  You can talk to a Certified Peer Visitor or connect with a Support Group.

We hope that you’ll share information about Youth Camp with a young person living with limb loss or limb difference. Camp creates friendships and networks that last a lifetime. And, this year, not only is it free but it is available to youth living with limb loss in their own living rooms. Camp is July 6-11.Registration closes soon.

I hope you’ll join us online for our National Conference in August.  This year’s theme is “The Power of You”.  There’s no one who knows your experience better than you do.  And there’s no one with more power to rise to the challenges and changes before us and lift up our community in support and encouragement of one another.

As we are all experiencing change and challenge, we also want to share with you these new opportunities for access and connection. And, I hope to see you (virtually) this summer.

Mary Richards
President and CEO
Amputee Coalition