Members of Congress are in office to serve two main functions:
- To represent the interests of the people residing in their state or district; and
- To negotiate policies in the best interests of the U.S. ACSM members who participate in Capitol Hill meetings will help ensure that our interests – to increase awareness of and funding for programs dealing with physical activity and active lifestyles – are communicated to our elected representatives.
Advocacy is the process by which ordinary citizens make their needs known to members of Congress. And the lessons are clear – advocacy is the key to getting members of Congress to take action on the issues that are important to us.
An individual who is willing to take the time to visit an office puts that Congressional office on notice that there is an issue that requires their attention. Your status as a professional with particular knowledge of areas relating to health, medicine or fitness gives you credibility. While you’re not expected to be an expert in every area, your degree and experience mean your comments will be heard and given due consideration.
Successful advocacy often requires a disciplined, persistent and concerted effort to communicate an organization’s interests. If those in the sports medicine community decide to become complacent and allow others to communicate their own individual interests to Congressional offices, we should not be surprised when Congress does not provide us with the support that we need.
Visiting a Congressional office is an opportunity to educate senators, representatives and their staff about the role that physical activity plays in helping to meet the needs of the nation. Plus, advocating on Capitol Hill is an exhilarating experience. Walking the halls of Congress and viewing democracy in action is an informative and eye-opening experience.
Everyone is qualified – no matter your title or position. Prior to your advocacy activities, ACSM advocacy staff will provide you with information and materials to ensure that you are fully prepared and comfortable for your meetings. Any individual who is willing to take the time to visit his/her Congressional office is highly respected and viewed as an effective advocate by those on Capitol Hill.