For five years, Life as a Zebra Foundation has spearheaded the adoption of Invisible Illness Awareness week in Michigan during the last full week in May. The Michigan Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted the resolutions for the years 2015-2018, and the Michigan Senate unanimously adopted the resolution in 2014. The goal of the week has always been to raise awareness of invisible illnesses among the general public and medical community, while reducing stigma surrounding these illnesses.
Life as a Zebra Foundation feels that the adoption of Invisible Illness Awareness Week in Michigan is an important step in getting dialogue started in the community. It gets people talking about what it’s like to live with an invisible illness, how friends and family members can support their loved ones, where someone can go to get accurate advice and information, and about the importance of earlier, more accurate diagnosis. Not only is the week about raising awareness, but it is also meant to let others who are living with invisible illnesses know that they are not alone, and that there is hope and help out there.
Further, the adoption of Invisible Illness Awareness Week in Michigan shows that we are continuing to make strides in keeping the dialogue open in our community and in our state about invisible illnesses, and that they are just as real, and can be just as debilitating as visible illnesses. One of the Life as a Zebra Foundation’s goals is to educate and raise awareness of invisible illnesses among the general public and the medical community and to reduce the stigma that surrounds these kinds of illnesses. We are grateful for the opportunity to spotlight these issues on the state level to raise awareness.
Each Invisible Illness Awareness Week has centered around a theme:
- “Invisible Illnesses; Visible Hope”
- “One Nation: Invisible but Indivisible”
- “Visible In Numbers”
- “Making the Invisible, Visible” (See Slides/Photos in Separate Folder) (Use?)
- “Everybody Knows Somebody”
The themes have allowed us to reflect on the widespread scope of the issue and to create a forum to share the stories of people living with invisible illness; especially since 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible.
Individuals can participate in Invisible Illness Awareness Week by conducting outreach in their communities, providing information and resources, encouraging community members to model acceptance of individuals living with invisible illnesses, donating to invisible illness awareness organizations such as the Life as a Zebra Foundation, and/or joining Life as a Zebra Foundation’s social media campaigns.