CIDA Health Advocacy Summit: A daylong event, for high school age students with chronic health conditions

Last Updated by Sneha Dave on

About 31% of adolescents suffer from at least one or more chronic health conditions (hhs.gov). But if you try to find any events that aim to support teenagers with chronic illnesses, you might notice that very few resources pop up. 

The Chronic Illness and Disability Advocacy Foundation (CIDA) aims to change that by giving teenagers the support and skills they need.

As an emerging nonprofit organization, CIDA plans to host a Health Advocacy Summit to support and help develop advocacy skills for adolescents who suffer from debilitating chronic conditions. This summit not only provides a long-lasting and meaningful support system but also guides high schoolers through legislative education and networking to reach further opportunities. In the same way that thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, CIDA hopes to ignite advocacy in chronically ill teenagers for both themselves and for others who live with chronic diseases by providing this platform to increase leadership skills. 

From Sneha Dave, Executive Director 

As someone who has lived with a chronic condition since age six, I have experienced firsthand the lack of a support system beyond medical treatment. Many students struggle to navigate high school while fighting their chronic condition. I barely attended the first two years of high school due to the severity of my condition and had to proactively advocate for myself within the school system. After I had my first major surgery, the full removal of my colon, I began a journey of healing. The obstacles I faced living with a chronic condition while attending a high school, I realized, were shared among many other high schoolers. CIDA has created the Health Advocacy Summit because of the inherent challenges of living with a chronic illness. 

Along with other Indiana University students, I am excited to create a resource that is much needed within the teen community. The Health Advocacy Summit will be a day long event for high schoolers who live with obstacles beyond the “normal teenage struggles.” Many teenagers live with invisible illnesses and find it difficult to communicate with their peers about the complexity of their condition. It is my hope, that by the conclusion of this summit, we can provide the resources and strategies for teenagers to find success and to become agents of change in their futures.  

From Rosie, Graphic Design Chair 

Given that the struggles of most chronic illnesses are usually not always physical or visible, it’s easy to overlook anyone who is diagnosed with a chronic illness and consequently disregard them simply because they “do not look sick”. I can attest to this myself: I watched my mother struggle to leave the bed every morning, become continually exhausted, and slowly weaken until she eventually lost control of herself. But I never thought twice about it until a few years later, when she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. 

Even now, it’s still difficult to help her when I cannot understand nor see her pain. It’s easy for people who are lucky enough to have never experienced a chronic illness, such as myself, to overlook the teenagers who deal with their illness every day as well as the isolation that may follow. The leadership and advocacy skills that CIDA’s health advocacy summit hopes to give will allow teenagers to have a greater voice in their daily suffering and struggle, and consequently, help them support themselves in a community where most cannot understand what they go through.
 

For more information about the Health Advocacy Summit, visit our website: http://www.cidadvocacy.org or contact info.cidadvocacy@gmail.com.

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Sneha Dave is the founder and executive director of the Health Advocacy Summit. She also created the Crohn's and Colitis Teen Times, a nonprofit organization for the purpose of connecting teenagers with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Sneha also writes for outlets such as U.S. News and speaks at multiple fundraising, corporate, and leadership events.  

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Rosie Maharjan is graphic and media design director for the Health Advocacy Summit. She is a sophomore at Indiana University, studying economic consulting and international business with minors in Business Law and Spanish. Her passions lie in the nonprofit sector and she enjoys volunteering through the Kelley Institute for Social Impact

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