For the last several years at Autoimmune Wellness we’ve marked the start of the New Year with a “State of AIP Address.” It’s an opportunity to introduce all the new members of our community to the roots of AIP (read more at The History of the AIP Movement), plus review the prior year and discuss potential areas of growth for the future.
We’re not the sort of people to sugar coat things though and we fully acknowledge that much like 2020, 2021 wasn’t a year filled with many highlights. It was another very hard year, on so many levels, for everyone. Behind the scenes, we’ve taken turns cheering each other on when the tanks were empty or the heartbreaks for either of us piled up.
This post is to inform the AIP community about where the team here at Autoimmune Wellness has recently focused our energy and where we are planning to concentrate it in the future. As before, this yearly post gives you a chance for input and ensures AIP arrives as a mainstream option with your needs out front.
So, what happened in the AIP movement in 2021?
We continued the discussion on living well through a pandemic with autoimmune disease.
Just like in 2020, we had to adapt our content to responsibly share rapidly changing science and public health practices as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed and continued to shape all of our lives. The largest, and admittedly most divisive issue facing our community this year was discussing COVID-19 vaccines for those with autoimmune disease. This topic being hard to navigate meant we took our responsibility as community leaders with a large public platform even more seriously.
As many in our community decided to get vaccinated in the early days of 2021, we shared a post, “The Vaccine Experience In The Autoimmune Community,” to help bridge the divide with two concrete steps:
- Step One: Validation – We sought to validate the uniquely demanding circumstances that the pandemic and vaccine decisions present for those of us with autoimmune disease. Even though this is a worldwide event with far reaching consequences for everyone, we knew our community needed understanding about the extra stress the situation presents for those with autoimmune disease.
- Step Two: Community Care For Hesitancy – We recognized that in the autoimmune community there may be some legitimate vaccine hesitancy due to the complexity of the chronic disease paths we are all navigating. We offered education, not alienation, as an act of community care.
More than anything, the last two years have taught us that the example we set matters. We are working hard to truly practice community care and put the needs of the group before individuals.
We followed through on our commitment to equity.
In 2020 we published a plan here on the website to ensure that anti-racism, diversity, and equity were central to the missions and values of all our businesses. We shared those plans publicly so you could hold us accountable. Here are some of the actions we took this year:
- Along with Sarah Ballantyne, we’ve made financial support available to BIPOC health and wellness practitioners for our AIP Certified Coach Training Program. To date we’ve extended $17,679 in scholarships.
- We set up a direct way for BIPOC and LBTQIA+ members of our community to contact us either to explore opportunities or to offer feedback. You can find that contact form here.
- We continued to evaluate collaborative opportunities and declined support for particular groups and projects that did not align with our work toward antiracist and anti-oppressive community building.
- We redefined our hiring practices, because we value the diversity of knowledge and experiences that BIPOC creators and thinkers offer our business and community.
- We determined we could sustainably give to BIPOC-lead food and agricultural organizations every month to intentionally shift money to the BIPOC community. To date we have given $1,369.82.
It has been our privilege to help build the AIP community and we take the responsibility (see a theme here?) of that privilege very seriously. We hope these actions build trust with those we serve as we work to ensure ALL are included in our community moving forward.
We graduated 200 more AIP Certified Coaches.
This year we taught not one, but two classes of AIP Certified Coach, which included MDs, NDs, Pharmacists, DCs, RDs, PTs, RNs, PAs, fitness coaches, mental health professionals, FNTPs, CHCs, Herbalists, LaCs, and other types of practitioners. We are overjoyed to share that AIP Certified Coaches continue to incorporate AIP into their practices all over the globe. (Looking for a coach? Check out the AIP Certified Coach Directory!)
These practitioners are now part of our growing “army” of AIP-trained professionals, able to make an enormous impact on the chronic illness epidemic. With millions diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in the United States alone, we are still growing this army–we are enrolling soon for our first cohort of 2022 (visit the AIP Certified Coach training page for more details and sign up for the interest list to be the first to sign up on February 9!).
What is next for 2022?
An opportunity to make AIP more accessible
Angie began consulting with health tech startups in 2021 and is taking it further in 2022. The big goal is to get our approach to autoimmune care into the health insurance system to dramatically increase visibility and accessibility of AIP and health coaching.
Angie is consulting with companies, like WellTheory, to reach that goal. She shares her knowledge on AIP and community care, while WellTheory leverages what they know about technology and data in order to build a wellness membership experience that supports people on their autoimmune journeys. We believe strategic collaboration of this kind is the fastest way to change the standard of care for autoimmune disease.
Making it through another uncertain year
You all know we are always honest with you and as we said at the beginning of this post, the truth is that 2021 brought some similar challenges as 2020, and our lives continued to be disrupted in a way that won’t allow for simply returning to normal. Those of us with chronic illness already know what it is like to live with uncertainty, and we’ve already learned how to navigate life without health guarantees.
One thing we know for sure though, is that growth happens outside the comfort zone. We know that so much comfort has been sacrificed this year, but in time we may see the resulting growth as an advantage. Both from more diverse people feel invited and safe in the AIP community and from the new needs rising to the top due to the pandemic that will require creative problem solving and greater collaboration.
There you go! This has been your 2022 “State of AIP” Address! Whether this is your first “State of AIP” address, your second, or maybe you were around before we started them, we sincerely appreciate that you’re here with us and hope to serve you even better in 2022. Happy New Year everyone!