This month, Project Sleep announced Rising Voices of Narcolepsy ℠, a leadership training program to help people with narcolepsy effectively share their stories through public speaking and writing with local communities, healthcare providers, news outlets, blogs and beyond.
On a personal note, this is a huge dream come true for me. It’s such a joy to use my seven years of experience as a vocal narcolepsy patient advocate to help others raise their voices and be heard. Also, I get to work with the most amazing program co-leader, health communication specialist, Rebecca Fuoco. Also, special thanks to Coby McDougall for the inspiring logo and Ciro Di Ruocco for creative direction. Project Sleep’s “dream team” has been working behind-the-scenes for over a year and a half, so finally sharing with you here on my blog is an exciting moment!
Why Rising Voices of Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder of the sleep-wake cycle that affects about three million people worldwide. However, public understanding of narcolepsy is limited, with media portrayals associating narcolepsy with comical sleepiness rather than a medical condition. As a result, people with narcolepsy (PWN) often face stigma and isolation as they are mislabeled as antisocial, faking and unmotivated. Misconceptions and low awareness of narcolepsy also perpetuate delays in proper detection and diagnosis.
At the same time, communicating about narcolepsy can be challenging. Many aspects of living with narcolepsy are invisible to peers, family, teachers and even medical professionals. The Rising Voices of Narcolepsy program aims to address this unmet need in the narcolepsy community.
This program will serve the dual purpose of fostering a new generation of narcolepsy patient-advocates spreading awareness while also empowering participants. Personal stories of health and illness are invaluable public education tools. Audiences are much more likely to empathize and retain information when it is delivered by someone with lived experience, giving a real “face” to medical terminology and statistics. Moreover, for those with “invisible illnesses” like narcolepsy, sharing one’s story is a powerful way to find connection, validation and understanding. Participants will not only gain valuable communication skills, but will also build confidence in their unique and important stories.
The first set of training sessions, with both online and in-person options, are planned for the summer of 2017. Applications will be accepted in spring 2017. To be considered for the program, applicants must be age 18 or older and diagnosed with narcolepsy. We will evaluate qualified applicants based on enthusiasm and capability and aim to have a diverse set of participants that represents a wide range of demographics and backgrounds. Selected participants will be able to choose a public speaking track or a writing track. If you would like to be notified when more information is available, please fill out the interest form.
The Rising Voices of Narcolepsy program is being co-created and led by Project Sleep founder Julie Flygare and health communications specialist Rebecca Fuoco. Project Sleep is deeply grateful to Jazz Pharmaceuticals for a generous grant to help support the development of this new program. Through the Rising Voices of Narcolepsy, Project Sleep aims to combine the power of real-life stories with expert communication strategies to raise awareness and reduce stigmas for all those facing narcolepsy.
Interested in learning more? Fill out the interest form. Thank you for your support!