Initiative

Use good judgment based on all available information–and then use your initiative.  A mistake may occur, but if it is not because of carelessness or sloppiness, poor thinking or rash judgment, it must be accepted as part of your journey to success.  Be quick, but don’t hurry.  ~Coach John Wooden

In 2010, I began attending monthly meetings of the Medical Home Work Group at Shriners Hospital in Springfield, MA.  The term “medical home” means many things to many people.  This particular work group had formed nearly a decade earlier, and is dedicated to bringing everyone together–families, clinicians, support services–to hammer out what needs to be done to give the best care to special needs children in our community. 

At first, I listened.  This is what I heard:  the sincere desire to have more parents involved in the group so that we could be truly responsive to their needs, not just our imaginings of their needs.  I started thinking in terms of social media as a way to reach families that are dealing with highly complex medical and life-management needs.  Might be a great way to hear their voices.

A year later, in 2011, I was ready to present that idea to the group.  Now, I realize that might not seem like I was moving quickly, but I was really trying to gather information.  At the same time, I was playing around with social media on my own.  I needed to understand what it was all about.

We started carefully, with a secret Facebook group.  Pat O’Brien, enthusiastic college student, helped us through the process of understanding what we were doing and how we wanted to present ourselves.  After getting our feet wet with a secret group, we changed to an closed group.  This meant that we didn’t need to be personal FB friends with each other in order to join.  We just needed to ask and be accepted into the group.

In September 2012, I arranged to have an undergraduate intern from the UMass School of Public Health work on a more comprehensive approach to social media.  With the help of Cassidy Hayes, we now have a blog, Facebook page, Facebook group, and Twitter account.  And, in February 2013, the Pew Internet & American Life Project published demographics of social media users that sound a lot like our families. 

So, I guess “quick” is a relative term.  “Initiative” feels more solid. 

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