'We Are the Union'

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Facing some health challenges, I knew I needed to change my lifestyle. I told myself I would work on getting healthier before my follow-up check-up at the end of June.  I shared my lifestyle change challenge with my twin  sister, and she agreed to join me. We committed to reduce carbs, fast foods and sweets, and engage in physical activities 3-4 times a week.  We signed an agreement on May 31, 2013 and began the Jump Start Challenge on June 1, 2013.

Something that started as a personal challenge grew into something much bigger when my family, friends and co-workers joined the Jump Start Challenge.  At the end of June there were 107 members. At the end of July there were 208 members. To date, we have close to 300 members. I did not expect the overwhelming response that I received, as the Jump Start Challenge was only intended to last one month between my twin sister and me. 

Now there is a different challenge every month. I love that approach because it breaks up a huge effort into manageable steps.

One of my favorite challenges was a hike in Griffith Park. We carried a SEIU 721 banner to honor Dr. King and the "I Have a Dream" speech.  Our union also provided us with turn out-flyers and water. Many of us were pleasantly surprised that our union would support the Jump Start Challenge.

But it makes perfect sense to me. WE are the union, and if enough of us organize around an idea and say it's important then our union will focus on it. An idea and a group of smart, committed people can do something amazing.  When you boil it down, that's the essence of organizing. I decided to organize my co-workers around health, but next time it could be something else. What would you like to organize around? I challenge you to think about it.

If you would like to lean more about the Jump Start Challenge email me at 
jumpstartchallenge <at>gmail<dot>com

Aretha Adams
Public Conservator
Department of Mental Health