Many SFU students have causes that they are passionate about. Some join clubs, some volunteer for related organizations, and others see a gap in what is out there and take initiative to further their cause. Deanna Douglas, a 4th year student at SFU, is passionate about increasing education and awareness of intestinal diseases, reducing the stigma so people can talk openly about it, and supporting other students at SFU with these diseases. This may not be a cause with a high profile or celebrity following, but it’s an important one.
I recently had a conversation with Deanna to learn more about her interests and the advice she has for others interested in furthering causes at SFU.
Why is this cause important? So many people have Crohn’s or colitis, but it is largely ignored in the public vernacular because of its nature. It’s important that people are able to speak openly without being embarrassed, so that others have the opportunity to be supportive and understanding. Psychologically it can be hard to deal with; being silent or feeling like you can’t talk about it because you might make others uncomfortable, only compounds that impact. Also there is a level of discrimination that comes simply from people not being educated, and obviously it’s so important to reduce discrimination of any kind.
What do you see your role to be? I guess a leadership role. I’m a young SFU student who I hope other students will be able to relate to – if I can talk about bowel function candidly, then I’m sure other people in my demographic will be inspired to talk about it as well!
What have you found most rewarding or challenging? Every little step in this still ongoing process has been rewarding. I have a Facebook group called The Bowel Movement (Colitis & Chron’s), and the response I’ve had from people who are either diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis, or are close to someone who has been, has been an incredible motivation to continue. It has been challenging to get this process rolling…but little-by-little the right people have come into my life and they have helped me greatly in moving forward. The local nonprofit organization IDEAS (Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society), has been incredibly helpful and supportive.
What would you say to others interested in getting involved with this cause? How can others get involved? I would say go for it! It’s amazing how much experiencing something that can be a source of pain and frustration can tip you into being really proactive. I would encourage others who want to get involved to contact myself; The Bowel Movement on Facebook is an open group and there you can talk to others, provide discussion topics about your experiences and share resources or ask questions.
If you had general advice for other students wanting to promote a cause or issue at SFU, what would it be? My advice would be to get a dialogue going with as many people as possible that you think could potentially help you. Trina, you have obviously been a great help, and I would recommend you as a valuable resource! [shameless Volunteer Services plug... thanks Deanna! - Trina]
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