I have a confession to make. I’m absolutely nuts about New Year’s Resolutions.
I know, I know – January 1st is just a date, there’s no reason to limit introspection to one tiny portion of the year, and yes, I’ve heard that making resolutions might even be bad for keeping them.
I can’t help it. I really like them.
For me, January really does feel like the designated check in. A chance to look back at what’s been achieved and be excited for what’s ahead. To decide what to bring into the new year and what to leave in the past. Truth is, I’m a big of a day dreamer. If I didn’t give myself a designated time to decided what I want to do and plan how we’re going to do it, I’d end up another year down with nothing to show for it.
A year ago today, we posted AAAF’s New Year Resolutions for 2017. We celebrated the amazing things we did in 2016 – like the Bald Canvas Initiative and our Remove GST on Wigs campaign – and we made plans for what was to come.
Looking back on 2017, I feel very proud of our wonderful team, and our outstanding community, because we achieved everything we set out to do. And so, so much more.
We aimed to grow, and we did.
We welcomed charismatic Carlo and brilliant Bianca to our core committee. In 2017 our fabulous community on Instagram has nearly tripled, and our support groups continue to grow by the day, including our brand new Men’s Alopecia Support Group. We reached new heights, with our team from the Kokoda17 fundraising campaign conquering the mountains and countryside in Papua New Guinea to raise awareness of alopecia. We also made new friends, especially at the NAAF Annual Conference in Miami, Florida, where we connected with not only our American counterparts, but also members of our alopecia family from the UK, Barbados, Canada, New Zealand and many more.
We aimed to improve, and we did.
Our target when we set these goals was our website, which received a full rebuild and plenty of polish during the first half of 2017. A lot of work was put in by our amazing volunteers, especially Volunteer of the Year for 2017, Nathan Ash, who provided invaluable technical support through the process. 2017 also saw the creation of fantastic new support material and resources for our community. Special highlights include the Parents Pack and our Wig Video Series, both of which were produced with much assistance from within our community itself.
We aimed to embrace, and we did.
The Embrace Alopecia Campaign was a huge project for us, and we couldn’t have done it without the involvement of our alopecia family. Those who shared their stories, who wrote for us here on Love, Alopecia or spoke out about alopecia at their schools and workplaces. Those who shared their beautiful pictures, and demonstrated for the world to see that Alopecia doesn’t have to hold you back from anything. And especially those who embraced alopecia in their own lives, in their own ways, even in ways that other people can’t see. Your strength and grace on your journey inspires us, and keeps us doing what we do.
2017 also held a few surprises which we had only dreamed of being able to achieve – the best being the Alopecia Areata Adventure Camp (which you can read about in more detail here). We have wanted to host an event for kids from across Australia, but securing the funding for the AAAdventure Camp in 2017 was quite a surprise, and a huge thank you is owed to our friends at the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation and Variety the Children’s Charity.
So with all of those amazing achievements in 2017, how are we working to making 2018 even better?
To start with, we’re reaching out to some of our remotest communities. We already have plans in place for our first ever Alopecia Support Group events in far-north Queensland and Tasmania. AAAF is a volunteer run foundation, and in the past its been hard for us to reach out to distant communities. Thanks to the power of the internet, we’ve been able to grow strong online connections, and been blessed by a network of amazing fundraisers who support the work we do and have put their money were their mouths are to help us reach even further.
We’d love to see this year be the one that our team grows to include dedicated State Branch Managers for Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Hands on the ground are the best way to provide support and change the lives of individuals and families living with Alopecia Areata, so if you (or someone you know!) would like to join our team of amazing volunteers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2018 is the year of #HealthyAlopecia, and we’re dedicated to working towards improving the physical and mental wellbeing of our community, and helping to show the world how amazing people with alopecia are. That’s why we’re collecting stories and articles to be featured right here on Love, Alopecia, and giving away $2000 to one lucky contributor. We’re very proud to be able to provide funds to support individuals on their alopecia journeys, and to help everyone have access to resources they need to improve their physical and mental health.
We’re also investing in opportunities to reach out to groups who often struggle with their alopecia.
In our many years conducting psychological research into alopecia we’ve found that teenagers with alopecia, especially teenage boys, can have some of the toughest journeys. With all the normal stresses and pressures of high school and exams and social dramas, teens with alopecia can also find it difficult to talk about their condition with others. Teen boys seem the least likely to reach out if they’re helping. In order to reach out to this age group, our WA community is trialing a Boys Weekend Camp as an opportunity to build social connections and resiliency in the teen boys with AA.
The AAAdventure Camp is also returning in 2018. Hosted this year near Melbourne, Victoria, we hope to have even more kids attending and reaping the benefits of meeting dozens of other kids with Alopecia.
And these are just the things we can announce 😉 There is so much going on this year, and we cannot wait to share it with you.
So what’s the resolution?
Do more. Grow bigger. Keep pushing and never stop trying new things. Listen harder to get better. Change the world, just a little bit. Every damn day.
Change isn’t easy, and spreading Alopecia Awareness won’t happen overnight. But it will happen. Because we’re working to improve the lives of every person living with Alopecia Areata and their families, one step at a time, every day. 365 tiny revolutions.
Alopecia Areata is life-changing. But so are we.
And you’re a part of that too. If there is something you’d like to see from us, we’re only ever a comment away. Here on Love, Alopecia, over on our Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or you can drop us a line by email. We’re here because of the community, and what you want really does matter to us. So, step up and join the revolution – What we can achieve together is much more than any of our individual parts.
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