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Sept. 25, 2012
TOPEKA The Kansas Mental Health Coalition is looking for people interested in becoming part of a grassroots advocacy network.
“We’re looking for at least 125 people who’ve either experienced a mental illness or who’ve had a loved one experience a mental illness, and who are willing to communicate with their legislators,” said Rick Cagan, executive director at the Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“We trained about 40 people this summer,” he said. “We’re looking for more.”
NAMI-Kansas is one of more than 60 organizations that belong to the coalition.
Coalition plans call for hosting four Saturday training sessions across the state:
• Oct. 13, Independence;
• Oct. 13, Wichita;
• Nov. 8, Shawnee; and
• Nov. 16, Dodge City.
People interested in joining the network are encouraged to fill out an application or contact Cagan at either 800-539-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sessions require an eight-hour commitment and a willingness to speak and write about personal experiences.
“We’ll be teaching people how take a complicated story and turn into elevator speech; how to take their personal experience and convert it to a story that can impact policy,” Cagan said. “We want them to the point person in their (legislative) districts.”
The advocacy effort, he said, would be long-term.
“There are plenty of short-term issues out there – like budget cuts,” Cagan said. “Those issues need to be addressed, certainly, but what we're wanting to do here is long-term. There needs to be effective communication with legislators in good times and in bad times.”
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