A Letter from ACI’s Founding Director, Marian Brown
Happy New Years ~ Launch of 7 Dresses 4 Health!
Dear Arts & Health Activists,
I hope this finds you well, getting ready to welcome 2015 with open arms! I know that the holiday season can be equal parts busy and overwhelming, as well as restful and fulfilling, giving us the chance to look introspectively at all that we are individually and collectively thankful for.
This year I find myself perpetually thankful for the wonderful friends and family that I am lucky to travel this life with, both new and old. In addition to reflecting on family and friends, I also find myself reflecting on the healthcare system(s) in which I was brought up in, and currently have access to. I am incredibly thankful and lucky to have been born into a country, community, and family that provide(d) the highest level of healthcare. The reality is that too often this privilege is reserved for few- those with the political and economic infrastructure, access to education, social economic status, and racial profile that allow access to said systems.
As a humanitarian I adamantly believe that both healthcare and education are human rights, and must be upheld as such. Correspondingly, I’ve devoted my life and career to building and supporting inclusive communities, working towards a vision of equity in both healthcare and education. A vision where ones birth does not dictate access to ones human rights. Every year I strive to re-commit myself to this mission, leading and living with courage, laughter and love at the forefront. Given this re-commitment to mission, and the engagement and energizing that the New Year brings, I find myself embarking on a truly exciting endeavor on the quest towards health equity- an arts and education campaign called 7 DRESSES 4 HEALTH. About a year ago the idea for this campaign began to surface. Through the support of countless imaginative, analytical, creative, passionate and driven minds it has developed into what it is today.
The team at Arts Connect International surveyed over 2,000 global health care practitioners and asked them to identify the top seven causes that their community currently struggles with; in other words, health causes that need more education and visibility. We found ourselves overwhelmed with the warm and enthusiastic response from providers located across the US, and sub-saharan Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi). The top seven causes identified include: HIV / AIDS, Nutrition (malnutrition & diabetes), Cancer, Heart Disease, Mental Health, Disability, and Maternal Child Health. Although this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch- we feel that it is an inclusive and comprehensive list that encompasses many pressing causes facing our world today.
Starting tomorrow, on January 1st 2015, I will be wearing seven identical dresses - the only variation amongst the dresses being color, which denotes the various health causes. For one year I will wear these dresses in solidarity with those affected by these causes: the communities, the individuals, the health care providers, researchers, family members, friends, and loved ones. I will stand in solidarity, bringing my own stories, history, compassion, heartache and optimism to the path towards health equity. In addition to wearing these seven dresses / causes, there will also be a daily blog which provides perspectives and narratives from a myriad of community constituents across the globe who bravely face these causes on a daily basis (which is what you’re reading from now!).
The blog will provide a platform for various voices to come together as a community - a place of catharsis, education, and movement. Everyone is welcome to submit to the blog, and are encouraged to wear the color of the day. Further, one can easily tweet or post a picture of themselves standing in solidarity by wearing the color / cause of the day in real time- from anywhere across the globe.
Here are just a few of the ways you can get involved with this ground breaking campaign:
* Become a Blogger - Whatever your perspective or story, we want to hear it!
* Become a Cause Champion- have an area of expertise around one of the seven causes? Do you feel like your cause needs more visibility and voice from various perspectives? Become a Cause Champion, and curate a quarter worth of blogs around a singular topic.
* Stand in Solidarity- Follow the campaign and wear the color of the day! Post and tweet pictures of yourself in said color. You can tweet to ACI @ArtsConnectInt wearing your color / cause or you can send us a message on Facebook: /artsconnectinternational and we’ll blast you out to our social media network!
* Donate $$$ - A little bit goes a LONG way, especially for us as a new start-up non-profit. We will humbly and gladly accept gifts of any size, and all of gifts are tax-deductible.
Thank you in advance for your continued support- your contributions (in any and all forms) are so greatly appreciated. More than anything- thank you for being a of this mission towards health equity & global inclusion.
Warm wishes and much love to all of you in the New Year.
ACI Founding Director
Campaign Update (2017): All 7 Dresses 4 Health blogs were migrated from a former site, so the sharing analytics are inconsistent from when they were first published. We apologize to our guest bloggers, and readers, for this inconvenience. That said, the campaign garnered an average of 5K hits per blog, over 500,000 readers throughout 2015! Additionally, the average number of shares per guest blog was over 150x on social media (through Facebook and Twitter). Thank you for making this incredible campaign possible - and all that it was for so many.