Raising our voices to make it stop
Not all Canadians are aware that we have more reason to be concerned about Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis than any other country in the world. To bring attention to the high prevalence of these diseases in Canada, and to demonstrate our commitment to the one million Canadians who either live with these diseases or care for someone who does, we rolled out a bold and far-reaching awareness campaign this past November to mark Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Month.
Our team developed and launched a national, bilingual public service awareness campaign across five platforms; print, radio, television, digital and transit. If you haven't seen the campaign, please view it here. Using donated air time and ad space valued at over $120,000, as well as media interviews in nine major hubs across the country, our campaign reached millions of Canadians who may not have been aware of these diseases.
The potential impact of this increased awareness is far-reaching. By telling our stories – as our ambassadors Brett in Edmonton, Andrew in Toronto, and Shannon in Halifax did – we are taking the stigma out of Crohn's and colitis and empowering others to speak openly about the impact of disease on their lives. By exposing more Canadians to our cause through these ads and the media coverage, we are also speeding the way to diagnosis for many who may be experiencing Crohn's and colitis symptoms but know nothing about the diseases - an experience we hear about all too often. And for those who are newly diagnosed or supporting someone who is, they now know Crohn's and Colitis Canada is a resource to help them on their journey.
Our social media platforms were buzzing throughout November as well, reaching an estimated one million people and generating important and caring conversations on Facebook and Twitter.
We have stepped up our advocacy efforts over the past two years, but made additional efforts in November to influence healthcare policy makers and legislators. Dr. Eric Benchimol and our research lead Aida Fernandes described the economic costs of Crohn's and colitis to representatives from the Ontario Minister of Health, the pharmaceutical industry and members of the medical and business community at the Economic Club of Canada in November. Statements about Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month and Canadian rates of the disease were also read in the provincial legislatures by MPPs/MLAs in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
As in previous years, we hosted 14 education events across the country in November, bringing the country's best medical specialists and speakers to more than 1,000 patients and caregivers. We also hosted several very successful fundraisers, such as the Toronto All That Glitters Gala that raised more than $1 million to enable us to offer more education events, fund more research and continue to raise awareness among Canadians about Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Combined, these efforts will help Crohn's and Colitis Canada and our community be the force that makes these diseases stop. For life.