Progress during STYPA 2021

by Anastasia Semaan

STYPA 2021 began in May 2021, and it has been a very fulfilling experience so far. Over the course of the Spring and the Summer, STYPA members have begun working through the course online, and by attending online sessions.

As a team leader, we have been going through our own training sessions and developing a deeper understanding of how-to best support our team members.

Throughout STYPA, members have had the opportunity to engage in their own projects, or to work together on their projects. The monthly meetings between the members and their team leaders provided the opportunity for us to discuss how we are progressed throughout STYPA, covering any questions that our members have, and most importantly taking the time to recognize the reality of patient advocacy, and how there are ‘high’ and ‘low’ moments throughout. As a STYPA member of three years, and team leader for the past two years, I have found that there is always an indescribable moment with your team where you feel this unbreakable bond that fosters greater empathy that enables a deeper understanding patient advocacy. As a team leader, this is the moment that draws you back to STYPA each year, and gives you the hope to create for your current future team members.

One of the key components of STYPA in 2021 were the livestream sessions hosted by the team leaders. Currently, we are planning our second livestream event around the area of “how to engage young patients in your patient organization in a digital era?”. During this event our goal is to highlight the importance of the patient voice and perspective in organisations and recognize if their voices are currently being acknowledged today, or if more progress needs to be made. This livestream has involved different components including an interactive beginning that brought to attention which organizations currently involve young patients and their perspectives, guest speakers highlighting their role in involving young patients and how they do so, breakout sessions to provide the opportunity to discuss what has been presented with guided questions by the team leaders, and concluding with some Top Tips of how to best involve young patients into organizations in our current digital era.

During October, the final group session took place and it was the final opportunity for teams to submit their challenges and for the STYPA coordinators to not only highlight the team winners, but to celebrate all the teams and all the amazing advocacy projects that took place. During this final call, I personally had this fulfilling moment whereby I was able to witness so many patient advocates come together and in a matter of six months unite and work together to make the world a better place. This is why I join STYPA year after year because of these ‘moments’ that stand out and foster self-fulfillment but also gratitude for being able to work with such amazing people, who will change your life. By the end of the call, many members asked if we could set up monthly chats within our teams and as a larger group, even though the program has ‘come to an end’. For us,  advocacy never ends, this was only the beginning.

Our goal is for us to meet face to face, and after getting to know this cohort of STYPA, that does not seem near impossible for us to achieve. STYPA 2021 has been a fantastic journey and we are so grateful to also have a role in the EPF Congress, where we will be presenting our final livestream at the end of October.