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We are so grateful to have Donna on our team at Tyze. She has helped to shape our online tools and she constantly inspires us. Her authentic online presence provides comfort and empowerment for thousands of people all over the world. Please enjoy reading her thoughts and insights on social media and advocacy.

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Donna Thomson on Social Media & Advocacy

I have always had an interest in social justice, so it was natural for me to become an advocate for my son Nicholas when he was born with disabilities in 1988. In the early days, an old-fashioned typewriter was my tool for spreading the word about inclusive communities. In the early 90’s, our family bought our first computer and by about 1995, we had a home connection to the world wide web.

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As a novice internet user, I was drawn to parent bulletin boards. My chosen online home was the child neurology forum at ‘Braintalk Communities’, a project of Massachussetts General Hospital. I still visit Braintalk, but the forum is much quieter now. Most parents have gravitated away from the bulletin board to more dynamic platforms such as facebook. Braintalk has a rule that none of its users are permitted to discuss politics. But that has never stopped parents from sparking a discussion about the barriers to procuring the equipment or medical services their children need. Inevitably, that is a conversation with political overtones. When parents chat online about their successes and failures navigating systems and bureaucracies that serve their families, parents become inadvertent advocates.

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Nowadays, I advocate online via a blog, a twitter account and multiple facebook pages. My blog receives an average of 7,000 hits per month, a figure that represents caregivers from across the globe who came across my site as they searched for information and comfort from others with similar responsibilities at home. I use social media to advocate for a holistic approach to supporting those who give and receive care, across the age and ability spectrum. I advocate against the widely held value that ‘we should look after our own on our own’, instead promoting the model of coordinated networks of support like Tyze.

Ideas of what constitutes success and failure in caregiving and care receiving are shifting away from ‘person centred’ and toward ‘network centred’. I am part of that movement. Technology is a tool that can be used for better or for worse. In the hands of caregivers who seek camaraderie and a kinder world for their loved ones, it’s definitely a tool for the better.

If you would like to join me in conversation with others who give care, come into the ‘Caregivers’ Living Room’ (that’s my blog) at www.donnathomson.com. My caregivers’ facebook page is located at: https://www.facebook.com/donnathomsonauthor and my twitter handle is @thomsod.

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