There is another non-profit I wanted to highlight that is very close to my heart – The Great Bowel Movement. It is an IBD and ostomy focused non-profit focused on empowering patients to start conversations and educate others.
The Great Bowel Movement was founded by Megan Starshak & Andrea Meyer in 2010. Both women have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (respectively), and met at Camp Oasis – a summer camp program established by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. After establishing a bond and becoming friends, they created GBM, which is run by volunteers, a collection of patients and caregivers, who are equally as passionate about this movement.
The organization started with the shirts – Andrea’s idea and Megan’s design – as a way to start conversations, empower patients, and make an invisible illness visible. When people ask about the shirt, an opportunity is presented to share your story of how IBD affects you – it’s a tool to increase awareness. As I mentioned in “Changing the Conversation,” my “Ask Me About My Colitis” shirt was a great resource in helping me educate my co-workers on one of my chronic illnesses and why I was taking the extra precaution of wearing my Vogmask. With my first shirt order, I also received two pins, a bathroom card, a “Mad Libs” style IBD elevator pitch, and information for caregivers. I wear the two pins on my coat, which have also started conversations and education.
They also publish articles and provide resources and tools to patients and caregivers. Though their website is in the process of being redesigned, they will be bringing back the content and resources along with new posts when they launch! One of the new posts is a guest blog I wrote about going through the job search and interview process as someone with a chronic illness and deciphering your benefits package – a piece I’m very excited for you to read!
As they say on their website, “We all have stories that matter.” This is one of the things I love most about GBM – they foster a community where we can feel comfortable sharing our stories and experiences with each other and educating those who have not yet heard of IBD.