ImproveCareNow #ignitetalk


IGNITE - This community has shaped me deeply.

From her home office, Catalina spoke clearly and with great conviction, delivering her narrative directly to…her computer screen. Many of us have become accustomed to hearing Ignite Talks delivered to a packed plenary room at our in-person Community Conferences – and the effect these personal stories have is often palpable. Though it was not the original plan, Cat’s words flowed from her location in North Carolina across hundreds and even thousands of miles, reaching ImproveCareNow community members as they joined our first-ever Live Online Community Conference from their homes and offices. While the distance between was indeed great – Cat’s words drew us in close and (as Ignite Talks tend to do) reignited the passion we all feel for the work of ImproveCareNow - of improving health and care for kids with IBD. And from across the miles, the effect of Cat's words were still palpable:

“Incredible Cat!! Words do not do justice to what you are conveying to all of us - the village of ICN!”

“Inspiring for us all! Makes you want to try even harder!”

“You are incredible Cat!!! Your strength and advocacy is inspiring!!! THANK YOU!!!”

“I'M CRYING”

“You remind us why it is so worth it to keep fighting and working. Thank you!”

“Cat gives me chills.”

*stands up and claps*

“Really beautiful. As a caregiver, I feel your passion and share your sense of purpose. Very well done.”

Experience Cat’s Ignite Talk:


IGNITE - I choose to ask the hard questions

"Everyone's story matters, and is important, and can change someone else's story!" - Sami Kennedy

Stories matter! They connect us; build awareness, understanding and empathy; they unite us in our pursuit of a common goal and sometimes they even ignite (or reignite) our passion for the work that lies ahead. When PAC member Maddie shared her story – her #IGNITETALK – at our Fall Community Conference the energy in the room was palpable. Here’s the transcript of her talk.


IGNITE - Find your purpose and help others

NO ONE can prepare a parent to hear that their child has to live with a lifelong medical condition and that there is NO CURE.- Maria Lester

Maria has lived through this twice. The first time was when her oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 4-years-old. Then, nine years later her youngest was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis at 6-years-old. After each heartbreaking diagnosis, Maria remembers reassuring her children that everything would be OK. And in those moments, she found her purpose – she was going to do everything in her power to make sure it would be OK. She dove in headfirst, connecting with disease communities to get support and learn all she could about these diagnoses. She said yes to opportunities to partner - to contribute her time and talent to improve the lives of not only her children, but other families walking the same path she has walked. Through this she has learned a powerful lesson – “that when you find your purpose, you realize there is a cause bigger than yourself and shows you the strength you never thought you had.”

Below is Maria’s full #IGNITETALK from our Fall 2019 Community Conference. As you read her words, ask yourself: what is my purpose?


Igniting Energy for Learning Networks

Recently, I had the pleasure of sharing my story at a Learning Networks conference here in Atlanta. When you hear the term ‘learning networks’ just think ImproveCareNow, but for other chronic illness populations. This particular conference was unique because it brought four unique, budding learning networks together for the first time. The whole experience was extremely valuable, and it was amazing to see four learning networks that are at different stages, ranging from just starting out to those that have been doing it for a while. Sometimes in ImproveCareNow I find myself wishing change happened more quickly, but the experience helped remind me that we have come so far already. The purpose of my speech was to energize and inspire the participants, but I think it was me who came away inspired.

Several participants asked me to share my speech transcript so they could share with others after the conference ended. I thought maybe I could do one better and share my words with my entire ICN community. So, enjoy and I hope this reinvigorates you in our fight for better care and outcomes for young people with IBD.


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