Sickle cell educational campaigns are one aspect of larger programs of professional, patient and public education designed to reduce the risk and consequence of sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Through the network of state-funded sickle cell projects, the ODH Sickle Cell Services Program educational campaigns focus on raising awareness and disseminating key messages to increase healthy outcomes among various racial, ethnic and age groups. Social marketing techniques are used to identify and segment target audiences, develop communication strategies and convey messages.
Establishing and maintaining partnerships is also a major component of the campaign and a key ingredient to its success! Partner organizations help assure that the campaign messages continue to have the support of the gatekeepers who are the all-important conduit to the target audience.
Sickle Cell Awareness Month
September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The annual observance originated in 1975 when the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease (NASCD) and its member organizations began conducting month-long events to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and the need to address the problem at the national and local level.
The NASCD (now called the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.- SCDAA) and its member organizations sponsored public educational programs and fundraising activities during the month. State and local government officials issued Sickle Cell Month proclamations and were introduced to local poster children.
The SCDAA tradition of selecting a national poster child (now called the Child Ambassador Contest) from local candidates began in 1976 with President Gerald Ford greeting the first winner (8-year-old Bridgete Earby of Oakland, California) at the White House. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama have also greeted the national poster child.
The effort to have Sickle Cell Month officially recognized at all levels succeeded in 1983 when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the resolution, introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus, asking President Reagan to issue a proclamation designating the month of September as "National Sickle-Cell Anemia Awareness Month." President Reagan signed Proclamation 5102 in September, 1983 inviting "all Americans to join...in reaffirming our commitment to reduce the burden of illness, disability, and premature death imposed by this disease."
In Ohio, legislation designating the month of September as "Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness Month" was signed by former Governor Bob Taft in February, 2003. Since its official recognition, the ODH Sickle Cell Services Program in collaboration with the State-Funded Regional Sickle Cell Projects and community partners, have dedicated the month to raising statewide public and professional awareness and knowledge of sickle cell disease, sickle cell trait and other hemoglobinopathies.
FACE Sickle Cell
In September 2008, the ODH Sickle Cell Services Program unveiled FACE Sickle Cell as the theme for National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. This statewide education and awareness campaign continues TODAY!
The multimedia campaign, originally created and developed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, was designed to build awareness of the most important facts about sickle cell disease and trait among all races and age groups.
FACE Sickle Cell puts a face on sickle cell disease. The artwork of the campaign features visual collages of FACE Adults, FACE Kids, and FACE Professionals. Whether taken as beautiful, intriguing or unsettling, this artwork commands the viewer's attention while supporting two key facts about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.
Sickle cell affects people of different races, ages, genders and social status.
Sickle cell is genetic and it can be a "piece" of what we pass on to our children. So we must always consider who we are a part of and who is or will be a part of us!
The Ohio campaign targets individuals living with sickle cell disease and their families; those individuals who do not know their sickle cell status; and medical, civic, social and religious leaders who can affect sickle cell care, funding and support.
"If we face the facts, we can fight the disease!"
Take Time, Know Your Status
"Most people know very little about sickle cell disease, the difference between sickle cell disease (SCD) and sickle cell trait (SCT), and how SCD and SCT are inherited (passed down from parent to child)."
Take Time, Know Your Status or #TTKYS - is the theme for the Ohio statewide campaign focused on raising awareness of sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait through the use of social media platforms.
Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic blood disease in the U.S. The message of "Take Time, Know Your Status," hones in on the personal responsibility of each individual to know if they carry the gene for sickle cell and the importance of getting TESTED!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately three million people in the U.S. have sickle cell trait. Thousands more are unaware of their personal trait status. It is important for individuals to know if they carry the gene for sickle cell prior to having children. If both parents have sickle cell trait, there is a 25 percent (or 1 in 4) chance with each pregnancy that their child will have sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is a serious, life-long blood disease. Not knowing your sickle cell status, makes it difficult to inform adults of their risk of having a child with sickle cell disease. That is why it is so important to know your "sickle status."
The #TTKYS campaign will target at-risk populations in the general public and teenagers and young adults who may be unaware of their sickle status. The use of social media platforms will allow for the message to reach a broader audience base and promote action and awareness of sickle cell. The campaigan will also use the #TTKYS acronym as a logo to brand products (e.g. t-shirts, banners) for distribution to the target audience and to sickle cell community partners.
The #TTKYS campaign joins the "FACE Sickle Cell" campaign that continues to be an important resource in our arsenal to educate, inform and empower the residents of Ohio.
For more information on the #TTKYS campaign, contact a State-Funded Regional Sickle Cell Project.
Sickle Cell Sabbath
Sickle Cell Sabbath is an interfaith outreach campaign designed to educate and increase awareness within the faith-based community about sickle cell disease and the need for minority blood donors. Although sickle cell disease affects persons of African ancestry at higher rates, individuals with heritage from Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean and Central America), the Middle East, India and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece and Italy can also be affected. The goal of Sickle Cell Sabbath is simple: increase the number of available blood donors within these various ethnic groups.
A statewide initiative, Sickle Cell Sabbath, is a coordinated, cooperative effort between the ODH Sickle Cell Services Program, the State-Funded Regional Sickle Cell Projects, regional blood programs in Ohio (participation may vary) and various statewide and/or local faith-based groups and organizations. All religious denominations are encouraged to participate.
Sickle Cell Sabbath is observed annually on the third weekend (Saturday and Sunday) during September, National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
For more information on the Sickle Cell Sabbath campaign contact a State-Funded Regional Sickle Cell Project.