I’m the one to usually jump at any opportunity that is presented to me. I have a bit of a problem saying no or restraining myself. When I attended one of my first WILL meetings in September of 2012, one of the co-leaders asked the group if any of us wanted to head UMBC’s first Women’s Health Expo. Without thinking about it, I said yes and thus began my activism.
To me, activism means making people aware of a certain topic or problem. Personally, I don’t care enough about my body and health as I should. I don’t think I know enough about my body and health either. If I don’t care or know, then I don’t doubt that there are some people out there who face the same problem I do. I found an event like this ideal to learn more about myself as well as what I can do to better my body or what I can pay more attention to.
Here is a DIY guide on how you can host your own Women’s Health Expo:
- Find a date to hold the expo. This event was in March this past year. Students are UMBC are known to go home on the weekends, so we made sure that the date was on a weekday, but far enough towards the end of the week so that offices and organizations that we invited weren’t facing a week of work and weren’t too busy to come to UMBC. We ended up doing the Expo on a Thursday from 4pm-8pm.
- Find a location. We originally were going to hold the expo in the Ballroom. There is a huge amount of space in there for an unlimited (but really limited) number of organizations as well as activities for students. Due to there being too hefty of a cost for the Ballroom, we decided to go for Mainstreet in The Commons. Mainstreet is an open area for student orgs to do fundraising or information tables at. There is a lot of foot traffic along Mainstreet which was only a benefit for us planning the Expo.
- Make a timeline, AND FOLLOW IT! I’m a huge advocate of making to-do lists, but never do I follow by them. For a big event like this, a timeline is extremely important! Make sure you set enough time to contact organizations and set aside enough time to receive replies to those invite e-mails/phone calls. Be sure to send weekly e-mails out to anyone you’re working with so that they are just as much in the loop as you are. This was one of my biggest problems this past year, miscommunication. I often didn’t e-mail my team and adviser, and did things at the last minute…not a good idea.
- Make a list of as many organizations as possible in the area or on campus that deal with Women’s Health Issues. Make sure the list contains a contact person, phone number, e-mail, and of course the name of the organization.
- E-mail those organizations an invite to the expo. Self-explanatory. A response won’t come in right away from all of the organizations. Make sure you have enough time laid out to wait for these responses (see 4).
- Update all social media. Social media is key when it comes to campus events. Most students are on the college website (such as myUMBC) or Facebook and Twitter. You want to make sure to blow up as many social media sites as possible with information on the expo not too early in advance but at least a week in advance so that students know what’s going on and can make some room in their schedule to drop by.
- FLYER ATTACK! As you’re waiting for responses from the organizations, create a flyer for the event. Gather a team to go out on a weekday evening to post flyers in as many buildings/classrooms/cork boards on campus as possible. Bring staplers, tape, and a lot of energy!
- Spread the event info by word of mouth. In these last few days before the event, you want to make sure as many people know about the event as possible. Speak it up in classes, organization meetings, social media, anything you can get your hands on really.
- Enjoy the event, learn something new, bring out awareness! A main goal for me was to talk to every table at the expo, and make sure I spent a good amount of time learning what each of the organizations do.
Overall, I would definitely consider the Women’s Health Expo quite a success considering it was UMBC’s first expo! There were definitely at least forty people at the expo learning new information themselves and talking to the organizations! It was a whirlwind of an experience for me, and I can only hope the next person taking over has just as much of an amazing experience as I did.
I do have to mention though that none of this would have been possible with the amazing team of WILLsters I had to work with. They kept me on top of my game and put so much hard work and effort into the event to make sure it would be a successful one. A huge part of this event working out is making sure that you have a team of people who are just as passionate about hosting an event like this as much as you are. I was so lucky to have a great group of people involved with me and I absolutely cannot wait to be a part of that team next year!