Category Archives: Disability

One Reason Nonprofits Should Use Video :: Testimonials :: Two Video Examples

For almost three years, Camp ASCCA has been using blogs, podcasts and now a full blown niche social network – ASCCA Friends – to connect with ASCCA’s campers and their parents.

Danika Kmetz, a great PR intern from Illinois State University (and President of her PRSSA chapter), has created two very fun videos with the best kind of testimonials possible. The first is from Hope, a camper at ASCCA’s Teen Week taking place this week on Lake Martin. The second is a mashup of clips from last week’s Adult Mentally Disabled camp.

There are many ideas at work behind these sites. The most important is to provide a look inside camp that will reach out to our campers, their parents and anyone that has yet to consider a therapeutic recreation opportunity. Continue reading


Allison Wetherbee on Fox 6 in B’ham :: Absolutely Alabama :: Another Reason I Go On and On About Camp ASCCA

I think that anyone who ever meets Allison Wetherbee comes away with a clear realization … she is a terrific person. Having her return to Camp ASCCA, as the director of public relations, may go down as one of the brightest decisions ever made for camp. I think this video proves that.

Allison was recently interviewed by Fred Hunter, Fox6 News in Birmingham, for their Absolutely Alabama series.

Allison shares how camp helped her over the years, trying anything new that she had her heart set upon doing. Since being a camper, Allison has gone on to earn a masters degree in counseling and served for almost 13 years in practice, before returning to Camp ASCCA.

I have to admit, I got a little tear thinking about Allison as a camper and now – the ASCCA PR director. It is a sweet story. She is the spokesperson for camp, and does a terrific job.

Watch the video now. (Click image below for a popup.) I have to say, Fred and the videographer/editor do terrific work. A great video. Thank you Fox6!

Now do you understand why I can’t help but talk about Camp ASCCA? 😉

Why Do I Go On and On About Camp ASCCA? Abner’s a Good Reason Why

Do you ever wonder why I go on and on about Camp ASCCA?

This video should help answer that question. Meet a guy that has a kind heart and long list of true friends. He makes you smile just seeing him.

Abner is one of our favorites at Camp ASCCA.

This week is a special one for camp. Throughout the year, we serve a lot of adults with mental disabilities. During the summer, there is one week where many of our regulars attend. Abner is a 10 year regular. This is his 10th Anniversary for attending Camp ASCCA.

All you have to do is watch the video and you’ll understand why so many said, “You’ve got to interview Abner!” His relationship with Nathan, our Head Male Counselor, will make you smile, too.

A little background. Abner is from Bainbridge, GA. He lives independently. Abner is likely as much of a favorite in Bainbridge as he is at Camp ASCCA. A playful and friendly guy, you’ll see that Abner has a kind heart. One comment touched me, in particular.

When I asked Abner what he liked about camp, he said he’d stay here 24/7. He then shares (I paraphrase), “But, you can’t do that. You have to let others have a chance to come here, too.” This is a guy that is remembered by everyone that meets him.

I’m so glad to be able to introduce you to Abner now. The “piggy-back ride” comment at the end is priceless.

Find more videos like this on ASCCA Friends

Camp ASCCA LogoCamp ASCCA has a new site! ASCCA Friends. It is our own personal social media network.
Looking for photos? Visit Camp ASCCA’s collection on Flickr! 15,000+ photos and growing every day!
How about Facebook? Did you know that Camp ASCCA is in Facebook? If you are too, please go on over and “Friend” Camp ASCCA and join the Camp ASCCA Facebook group, too.

Interns at ASCCA Begin Their Summer Social Media Campaigns

Each summer, interns from around the country visit Camp ASCCA.

This summer, we’ll be doing podcasts using Utterz. I’ll give them a prepaid phone they can carry with them to the activity areas. While taking photos and videos, they can also grab a quick audio interview easily embedded in the camp blog as well as the camp’s social network, ASCCA Friends.

It struck me that this is a very inexpensive way to add one more multimedia layer with fun interviews to the camp’s efforts. For instance, below you’ll see one of their first video offerings.

The idea behind the Utterz podcasts comes from a realization that the students have to manage their time. We’ve found that the time spent editing video, and creation of their converged news packages for media relations offerings to newspapers, limits the amount of time they have to do audio editing, too. I missed the podcasts and they had a pretty strong download history. So, using Utterz allows us to keep audio in the mix. We’ll give it a try and see how it goes. Maybe it will also drive some new traffic to the site.

Find more videos like this on ASCCA Friends

Unique Communities :: PR Embraces Social Media for Healthcare and Nonprofits

Jeremy Pepper has an interesting post about social media and healthcare over at Pop PR Jots.

Jeremy joined in a panel with Amy Tenderich, from Diabetes Mine.

From his post, these three paragraphs – in particular – struck a cord.

When explaining social media, I use a Town Hall analogy. From a conversation with a friend, she wrote it out like this: Imagine a small New England town with a highly civically-active community. On a regular basis this tightly-knit community hosts Town Hall meetings to discuss current events, areas of concern, etc. Now imagine someone wholly unconnected to community coming in, raising a topic of concern and just leaving. Town Hall meeting members have every reason to be annoyed, incensed and even hostile.

Now take that Town Hall scenario, multiply it exponentially, and stick it online – where anyone and everyone can see it. The quaint little Town Hall is now a blog. And the outside, rude intruders are PR people – those that neither seem to care or understand the community, but are just following orders to get “ink” no matter what.

For healthcare, take that Town Hall scenario, and put it in the hospital ward. With some health blogs, you are either talking to the patient, or the patient’s relative.

In our work with Camp ASCCA, the patient is the camper and the patient’s relatives expands out to the entire family and that unique “family” one gains like physical therapists, doctors, nurses and many others while dealing with issues brought on by your disability. That family even involves donors and volunteers that make trips to Camp ASCCA possible for thousands each year. And, it even involves that area formerly known as B2B when dealing with vendors. Yes, we even address them in our social media strategy.

You just can’t talk with these audiences using a blast email or shotgun press release approach. After all, that’s talking “to” someone, isn’t it?

It is these communities of nonprofit and healthcare “family members” that may well match the blogosphere’s community aspects more than any other. They don’t want advertising. They don’t want to be pitched. What they want is to be a part of something and truly feel that they are making a difference.

I also see this as similar to what we encounter in fundraising. First rule: don’t be afraid to ask. What can they say? No? Well, it isn’t like I’ve never heard that before. But, you have to ask in the right way. And, there must be a relationship before you can ask. Well, if you want to have any hope of being successful.

On another front, Jeremy’s partner in the panel – Amy Tenderich – might be interested in something we’re going to start this coming week with the Southeaster Diabetes Education Services. They are going to begin blogging and video podcasting much the same way students have been doing it at Camp ASCCA’s Journal.

Both examples use blogs for stakeholder outreach – like the campers, counselors and parents of people with disabilities. For ASCCA, as an Easter Seals facility, we work with anyone and everyone to achieve the goal of providing services to people with disabilities. Examples of those services may be found in these posts

The best part about all of those posts is that they were created by students gaining experience and they involve multiple organizations and universities all doing one thing – making life a little bit better, and a little bit more fun, for people with disabilities.

The video below is one example. It comes from our intern, Cathy Cochran, from Sewanee. She’s doing some great work at Camp ASCCA. Cathy is only a sophomore. She has very little experience with video and production. Yet, look at what she’s done in only her first week.

I think this could be a really great summer for social media and Camp ASCCA.

Facebook Word-of-Mouth Campaign :: ASCCA Trying Something New

Facebook is an interesting social media community. For ASCCA’s interests of connecting with college students, it seems like the natural community to engage. ASCCA wants college students to work as counselors, program staff and for internships. So, we’re trying something new to reach themcamper and counselor.

ASCCA is going to run approximately 50,000 flyers a day, for three days, targeted at students from the following universities: University of Georgia, University of Florida, Troy State University, Montevallo, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of North Alabama, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and Auburn University (Auburn).

This will give us over 150K impressions. Now, realistically, we’d like to run more – and target many more universities. But, the Facebook flyer program does have some limitations. I’ll discuss those. And, just so you’ll know, Camp ASCCA is not paying for this. A new tactic in our strategy of reaching students, I felt it best to cover this myself as a test. We’ll see how well it goes. The cost of this program equals about 1/2 of a week long campership. So, I thought it best to test the process, first. Still, that cost would be a small fraction of what we’d usually spend to advertise in college campus newspapers. More on that in a bit.

sample ASCCA facebook flyerThe image to your left is an example of one of the flyers. That is what students at UGA will see on Sunday through Tuesday when they log in to Facebook. It appears just below their lefthand menu. A nice placement, I think. Click the image and you’ll see all of our flyers. On Facebook, when students click the image, they are sent to a purpose built page on our site that offers greater detail. See ASCCA Public Relations Internships. In the future, I’d actually like to target the top 25 universities with PR programs. Maybe we will, still.

So, what are the limitations of the Facebook flyer program, as I see them? Well, currently you cannot target students beyond simply choosing a specific school, or schools. I find this a bit strange, since Facebook does have the demographic and lifestyle (interests) information of their audience. Ideally, I’d like to use that information to specifically target the students most likely to be interested in what ASCCA has to offer.

For instance, if we wanted to seek male counselors, I should be able to target a specific school, reach only males, and reach only those that have listed interests like: recreation, education, or even special education. Facebook is still relatively young and their flyers and advertising programs are still maturing. Right now, Facebook flyers are more of a broadcast tactic than a targeted one.

You might be wondering, “How effective is the Web for accomplishing ASCCA’s marketing and hiring needs?”

Today, Matt Rickman told me that he has yet to run a single ad in college newspapers during his counselor recruiting process for Summer ’07. That’s remarkable. Even more remarkable, Matt shared that he is ahead of his annual hiring targets. He would usually start college newspaper ads in April. This year, he may not run any of them. So, why is that? What is different this year?

Although we have sketchy data upon which to base this claim, so far the difference seems to be our Web site. Yep, apparently the site is accomplishing the goal of reaching potential counselors – just as we hoped it would. We’ll poll the counselors and program staff this summer to see exactly how many actually found us online.

I’ll report back in a week or so to let you know how our experiment with Facebook went this time around. For now, let me hear from you. What do you think about this tactic? Do you have any suggestions about other processes we may undertake to reach potential interns?

Did you know that Camp ASCCA is in Facebook? If you are too, please go on over and “Friend” Camp ASCCA. This way you may keep up with what we’re doing all the time. Join the Camp ASCCA Facebook group, too.

Parents React To Media Coverage of Disabled Child’s Controversial Treatment via Blog

For all the other big “new media” stories that have hit the blogosphere over the years, aside from politics and the Iraq war, I believe this may well be the biggest story peaking the interest of most people and spurring them to online discussions.

The blog by the parents has received 1,477 comments and the MSN message boards have 1,955 messages by 860 authors.

Will this eclipse the Terri Schiavo story, at least with regard to online social media discussion? Perhaps that’s not a fair comparison as the Schiavo story was a political story, after all. And, the Republicans no longer control Congress.

Ashley’s story has particularly galvanized the disability community. The reason for all of this may simply be because more media outlets have adopted social media tools on their Web sites. We’ll see.

For the past week, I’ve seen references to this story on TV and in the newspapers.

The parents have been overwhelmed by media attention. They started a blog to answer questions. So far, the one post has received 1477 comments. They are essentially handling crisis management through their blog. The post contains this statement to the media in that MSN blog. It actually comes off looking sort of like a social media news release.

(Note to members of the media and our web visitors: We are getting more emails and requests than we can possibly handle– more than 1500 in the 48 hrs since the LA Times story broke out. We want to attend to our lives and our kids as we should. This web site received more than a million hits and about 1000 comments were added in those 48 hrs! We truly appreciate the overwhelming support and the thoughtful comments we’ve been getting. Rest assured that we will read every one of your comments and they might be used in the future to help other families through a similar decision process.)

The long post in the blog features a key talking points list from the parent’s side of the controversy.

  1. Ashley is doing well, healthy, happy, and lovingly cared for.
  2. The “Ashley Treatment” is intended to improve our daughter’s quality of life and not to convenience her caregivers.
  3. Providing our daughter with this treatment was an easy decision since the benefits by far outweigh the risk and short term discomfort associated with the surgery.
  4. We wrote the article and published this web site to inform and help other families of “Pillow Angels” who might benefit from our experience.
  5. With the overwhelming thoughtful support that we are receiving (90%+ of the comments and emails) we feel better than ever about what we did for Ashley, and we certainly do not feel defensive about it.
  6. Please make sure to read the five emphasized paragraphs in the first two sections below, since they convey the essence of Ashley’s story.
Ashley’s parents say the effort is a more humane solution for the girl who has an irreversible brain impairment called static encephalopathy.

Fox News had a pro/con debate on The Big Story. It is a called “Frozen in Time.” (Don’t know how long that link will stay active.) I know. It is Fox. But, the debate does show both sides of the issue.
Click the image below for a larger version. The parents have actually created a media release statement for the photos in their blog, too.

Ashley In Her Wheelchair 2006More about the blog: The parents have actually posted a quite lengthy explanation of their side of the story in their blog. It is located at MSN Spaces in the blog The “Ashley Treatment”, Towards a Better Quality of Life for “Pillow Angels”.

There is much more out there in the way of coverage. See Parents defend treatment to keep girl child-sized from (Canada). Also, here is the link to 276 different stories in Google News.

Let’s face it. This is a difficult story to address. I am willing to guess that – at Camp ASCCA, for instance – we would have staff, counselors, parents and campers with wildly differing views on the actions taken by the parents and doctors. Also, as medical science goes forward, these controversial treatments are likely to become more common. Continue reading