The Brain Injury Association of America has announced Brain Injury Awareness Day as Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at our Nation’s Capitol in Washington DC.
This event is hosted by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D, NJ) and Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R, FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.
The event is FREE to attend, everyone is welcome, and no registration is required.
Although BIAA and brain injury advocates work with Congress throughout the year, Brain Injury Awareness Day is important because it is the one day dedicated to educating your elected officials about brain injury and how vital federal funding is to continue the Federal TBI State Grant Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention TBI Programs, and brain injury research conducted by the TBI Model Systems.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) will be hosting a TBI stakeholder meeting on Monday, March 19. Please note you do have to RSVP for this meeting. ACL will also be hosting a brown bag lunch meeting on Tuesday, March 20 on Capitol Hill.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.:
Brain Injury Awareness Fair
Rayburn Foyer, First floor, Rayburn House Office building
Brain Injury Briefing
Longworth House Office Building Room 1539
Reception celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month
Rayburn House Office building Room 2045
The very first Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill was held in 2002, and is is hosted by the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force co-chaired by Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.). It is put on in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of America. I will be meeting with my Senators while I am in DC and asking them to join the Task Force!
How YOU can help — even if you’re not able to attend in-person in Washington DC:
- Find your local Senator and Representatives:
– To find your Senator you can visit www.senate.gov and click on your state
– To find your Representative you visit www.house.gov and enter your zip code in the upper right-hand corner
- Send them a letter requesting they join the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. Use this letter as a template (change out the RED highlighted areas). CLICK HERE FOR PDF
- Include this form for them to join the Task Force. CLICK HERE FOR PDF.
- Schedule a meeting with them while you’re in DC (if you’re attending).
Please contact Amy Colberg, Director of Government Affairs, at [email protected] if you would like assistance with scheduling meetings with your elected officials during Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill.
This year will be my fourth time attending BIA Day, and I wanted to offer my fellow survivors who are planning to attend some tips on planning out your day!
Map Your Route
Whether you’re arriving by Metro, Taxi, or car, it is important to do your research and know where you’re going. Make note of which building you need to be at, and program the addresses into your GPS using the “walk” option, or print out maps and highlight your path. NOTE: You will need to go through security screening to enter any of the buildings at the Capitol. You can not bring in food or beverages, and your bags will be scanned and/or checked by hand. Please be prepared, and feel free to tell security you have a brain injury and may need some assistance from them.
Plan Your Schedule In Advance
Understand how much energy you’re willing to exert and plan accordingly. If you can only give yourself an hour or so, I highly suggest you put your energy towards the Awareness Fair. You will be able to meet with vendors who support brain injury awareness, you’ll meet fellow survivors, interact with the Brain Injury Association of America, and pick up some free swag to take home with you! The Congressional Briefing can get a bit long and can be overstimulating to listen to, however, you will learn a lot and get updates on what is happening across the country with brain injury awareness, detection, and prevention. The Reception is a fun time to hang out with the new people you have just met, as well as eat some tasty treats.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
It’s important to understand that there is a lot of walking involved when you’re at the Capitol. You will walk from your car, Taxi, or Metro stop to the building, and also between the buildings. Distance is deceiving when you look at a map, so it’s good to be prepared for a lot of walking!
Stay Hydrated & Eat A Snack
Eat a healthy breakfast before heading out. Hydration is critical to brain health, so bring a water bottle and fill it up once you’re through security. There is also a cafeteria located inside the building where you can purchase beverages as well as a meal or snacks.
Bring A Notebook & Pen & Tote Bag
You will likely meet a lot of wonderful new people, and you’ll want to grab their business card and/or make notes. You will be taking in a lot of new information, and I suggest writing things down so you don’t forget, and make notations of things you want to follow up on. A tote bag will come in handy to carry around the free swag that you pick up (pens, etc).
Pace Yourself & Be Prepared For Overstimulation
Get LOTS of rest the night before. This is going to be a busy day with lots of people, walking, and interaction. Bring with you any comfort items you may need such as sunglasses and earplugs. Take breaks and pace yourself, you’re under no obligation to see it all and do everything on the schedule!
Here is a recap of the first BIA Day I attended in March, 2015 on Huffington Post: CLICK HERE
Photo credit: The author working with Congressman Pascrell at Brain Injury Awareness Day in Washington DC