In October of 2012, I heard about CommunicateHealth. Interested in learning more about CH, I reached out to Blythe, a Senior Health Writer on staff. I was a junior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. A double major in Public Health and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I was learning about health disparities that affect my community and communities around the world. I was starting to understand the desperate need for accessible information about health. I wanted to help create health materials that people can understand so they feel empowered to self-advocate about their health needs.
Blythe and I met at a café and I told her about my passions for reproductive and sexual health in LGBTQ communities. I had lots of ideas and aspirations and took the next couple of months to sort them out. I reached out again a few months later, and soon after started volunteering at CH. Every week I learned more about different parts of plain language writing — for example, how to frame messages positively or developing clear materials by choosing simple, actionable language.
I also got feedback on my own work. In 2012, my partner and I started a website called College Queers — a site created to entertain and educate the queer community in the Pioneer Valley. I’ve spent a lot of time researching health disparities in the LGBTQ community, and now I’m working on my own health-writing portfolio.
I write about topics like coming out to your doctor, expanding the meaning of safe sex, healthy relationships, empowerment, childbirth, and body positivity. I’m grateful that CH has taught me about plain language, and that I received useful feedback from the experts themselves. This has helped me to find my own voice, and I finally feel like I am achieving my long-time goal of helping others find theirs, too.
Now a year later, I work part time at CH. I’m involved with several different tasks such as project coordinating, recruitment, plain language writing, usability testing, and health research.
CH has inspired me, mentored me, and is an instrumental part of my learning when it comes to the importance of informing people about their health.