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Meet Jason Berek Lewis

In this post, IABC Victoria member and volunteer Jason Berek Lewis, shares with us the "Best Day In His Career" (so far…)

I recently experienced the best day of my career (so far). I didn’t secure an angel investor for a start up, I didn’t score front page coverage, I didn’t sign up an endorsement from an AFL legend or see one of my tweets re-tweeted by Ashton Kutcher…

On this day I ran a media training and advocacy campaigning workshop. I bet you have done something along those lines too, so you are still thinking: What is this guy on about? If you are telling us about the BEST day of your career, can we just fast-forward to the juicy bit?

The reason for the best day of my career was that this session wasn’t filled with the usual suits and ties, there were no ‘I want to see my name up in lights’ media tarts in the room. This workshop was about building the capability of every day people to use mainstream and social media to tell their story. The hook? Every person who attended this workshop lives with the daily pain of arthritis or a related musculoskeletal condition.

I work for Arthritis Victoria, a small not for profit organisation that supports Victorians living with a whole range of conditions that fall under the catch-all name of ‘arthritis’. The organisation is taking its first steps on a new journey, focusing on advocating for changes to health policy and service delivery to better support the 820,000 Victorians who live with the chronic pain, discomfort and mobility challenges associated with arthritis and a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions including osteoporosis, gout and juvenile arthritis.

I’m proud to have been able to share my knowledge with people who are keen to tell their stories in their own words. We discussed using talk back radio, answering queries from journalists and writing letters to the editor, but what really inspired people was the opportunity to tell their own stories through social media.

Around the room, there were two young faces, the rest of the people involved probably reflect your stereotypical expectation of a person living with arthritis or osteoporosis. Despite this, the interest in blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting their story was palpable.

The beauty of these tools is that anyone, anywhere can tell their own story. Greater than that is that their stories won’t sit in the emptiness of cyberspace for long: they will be sought out, shared, commented on and empathized with my many, many people in similar circumstances. The opportunity of social media tools is that we no longer need to wait on anybody to tell our stories: we can do this ourselves, without permission, without filters.

More than any other element of the workshop, this is what excited people most. I am proud to have given them an insight into the tools that can help their voices be heard.

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