Maiava Blackwell values her work as an Ambassador because it allows her to stay informed on current sexual and reproductive health issues in South Carolina. With this information, she actively works for health care reform, which she says is much needed. Her determination is powerful and encouraging to advocates who may feel downtrodden at some points in their advocacy journey. She reminds them that the process is long and slow, but do not give up. It will be worth it in the end.
“I’m applying my voice to the issues along with many other voices through Tell Them, which gives us more power to change policy.”
Before, Maiava was working solely with HIV related health issues, but as she continued to grow in her advocacy, she realized that all citizens are affected when it comes to sexual health issues. While the HIV community does face unique challenges in our society, they are not alone when it comes to facing stigma and accessing adequate health care. By joining together, Maiava can improve the lives of those living with HIV and others who face similar issues.
“I think the more inclusive you become in who you choose as your allies determines your effectiveness.”
Maiava is currently working on her Master’s in Communication at Walden University’s School for Social Change. She sees this as an important aspect of her advocacy work, and she especially looks up to Melissa Harris Perry as her inspiration. Many of us in advocacy know that the media is a good resource for getting our message out to people who normally might not reach. Our messaging to other advocates working on similar causes is also important in forming bonds with like-minded community advocates.