Thanks to its dedicated volunteers, U.S. Pain Foundation’s 2019 Pain Awareness Month campaign, #LetsTalkAboutPain, was the most robust yet. All of the month’s activities—from educational events to the daily social media challenge—were possible through the generosity of Thrive Tape, makers of a far-infrared kinesiology tape.
“We chose the theme because we believe that speaking up about personal experiences is the first step to creating awareness and change,” says Interim CEO Nicole Hemmenway. “We are incredibly grateful to our supportive, passionate community for bringing pain to the forefront throughout September, and to Thrive Tape for providing the funding to support these efforts.”
Storyathon shares pain warrior journeys
The keynote initiative of the month-long campaign was the Pain Awareness Storyathon, which featured one 3-5 minute video story from a pain warrior each day during September. The videos were viewed an average of 271 times each. The most-watched video of the month was Karaleigh S.’s, with 1,014 views, followed by Arun N.’s video, with 664 views and Tim B.’s video, with 632 views. Tim B. was also the winner of the Storyathon raffle prize, which included an Enso device.
The Storyathon finale was a video message from Karen “Duff” Duffy, an actress, author, and patient advocate who lives with neurosarcoidosis and complex regional pain syndrome. Duffy, best known for her roles as an MTV VJ and in the movies Dumb and Dumber and Blank Check, is the author of two books on life with chronic pain.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Thank you to our 2019 Pain Awareness Month presenting sponsor, Thrive Tape. [/su_pullquote]
Special events and social media
In addition to the Storyathon, U.S. Pain hosted four educational events during the month, including:
- Talking publicly about pain: A Q&A with Ed Coghlan of National Pain Report
- Expression and movement: A dance class for chronic pain with Lucrecia Martinez
- Becoming Incurable: A Q&A with film director Victoria Suan
- Your story has power – with RI State Rep. Patricia Serpa and U.S. Pain’s Shaina Smith
All were recorded and can be watched via the links above. On the last day of the Pain Awareness Month, U.S. Pain also participated in a #CreakyChats Twitter chat about pain with Creaky Joints, Healthy Women, and Montefiore Medical Center.
For in-person events, Ellen Lenox Smith, Board Member and Co-Director of Medical Cannabis, hosted an educational event on Sept. 18 in Providence, RI, featuring various speakers. More than 20 volunteers and staff hosted information tables at events and conferences across the country, including PAINWeek in Las Vegas, NV, the American Society for Pain Management Nursing conference in Portland, OR, the Abilities Expo in Boston, MA, the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida in Walnut Creek, CA, and the Clusterbusters conference in Dallas, TX.
On social media, the organization hosted its annual daily challenge. Each day featured a specific task or activity designed to get the pain community engaged in speaking up about pain. Giveaways were held on several days, thanks to donations from individuals and companies, including presenting sponsor Thrive Tape as well as author Amy Orr, Oska, Neurometrix, Enso, and Pain Care Labs.
Volunteers work to get proclamations, landmarks lit in blue, and more
Numerous volunteers from across the country participated to make U.S. Pain Foundation’s other annual Pain Awareness Month campaigns — proclamations, Shine Blue for Pain, and Beautify in Blue — great successes. Volunteers worked to secure 14 state proclamations officially recognizing September as Pain Awareness Month, with 13 state proclamation requests still pending. City or town proclamations were received from 41 locations, with several dozen still pending.
Pain ambassadors also worked to get 40 locations to light up in blue for Shine Blue for Pain, ranging from the Zakim Bridge in Boston, MA, to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. In addition, 20 volunteers participated in Beautify in Blue, decorating buildings and public areas with blue ribbons.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Check out a list of all the individuals and groups who made our 2019 Pain Awareness Month campaign possible.[/su_pullquote]
New this year was the first-ever Wear Blue Day on Sept. 27, with dozens of schools, companies, and individuals participating.
“None of our efforts would be possible without our volunteers,” says Hemmenway. “Creating awareness about chronic pain starts with each of us speaking up and taking action in ways big and small.”
She encourages the community to keep up the momentum and actively work to raise awareness year-round. “September is over, but we know that chronic pain can be a life-long fight. We hope pain warriors everywhere will join us as we keep working to create change.”