Ashleigh was the only individual from Alabama in attendance at this year’s Champion Summit, and she is proof that one person and one voice can have an impact.
What first motivated you to become a Shot@Life champion?
I decided to become a Shot@Life champion because I am passionate about child health and preventing disease. I discovered this great campaign through NAPNAP and knew that this was an outlet to exercise my passion for child health.
How does your role as a pediatric nurse practitioner and member of NAPNAP influence your view of advocacy efforts to expand access to health services?
As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I believe advocacy is an integral part of my daily practice. As citizens and practitioners in a privileged and developed country, it is our duty to expand the same essential health promotion and disease prevention practices to developing countries.
Extending access to these services not only promotes global eradication of disease but also provides a safety net for all children domestically.
This year’s Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. was the first one you’ve attended. How would you describe the overall experience?
My experience at this year’s Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. was enlightening and invigorating. I was able to glean incredibly valuable information on policy and advocacy from our great slate of speakers on the first day of the Summit.
Were there any particular highlights that stood out for you?
The highlight of the Summit for me was Hill Day. As an American citizen and passionate pediatric provider, I had an incredible sense of empowerment and new-found appreciation for the concept of democracy by meeting with our members and staffers. I was amazed at how well our campaign was received and how engaged our policymakers were with constituents.
How was it being the only champion from your state in attendance at the Summit?
I was the only champion from Alabama in attendance and came to Washington, D.C. with no prior connections to other champions. The initial challenge of coming to the Summit without knowing anyone and having no prior experience in meetings with members of Congress was quickly overcome by the numerous connections I made with other champions during the first day of the Summit.
I felt well supported by other champions in my Hill Day group, and several were returning champions who imparted valuable tips for those of us attending for the first time.
The Shot@Life staff were incredible not only in preparing us for our meetings in the break-out sessions, but also were always present in the background for support or that occasional difficult question from a staffer.
What would you tell others from Alabama and elsewhere in the U.S. about becoming a Shot@Life champion?
I would like to tell them that Shot@Life is an incredible campaign that is only made possible through the valuable work of champions. Anyone can be a champion, and every champion is integral to the campaign. Although Alabama is not always as visible as other states in the political and advocacy arena, representation from each and every state makes a statement to members of Congress about the power of Shot@Life.
What would it mean to you to see polio eradicated in our lifetime?
We are closer than ever to the global eradication of polio. Polio is a disease that most people in my generation have not had very much experience with, and we are so fortunate to be able to make that statement.
I know that we will eradicate polio in my lifetime through the efforts of Shot@Life and our global health partners. This will mean a lifetime of opportunities for all children around the world to be protected from the devastating consequences of this disease.