Necessary, obligation and essential are the three words that come to mind when I think of why Kyle, Ediomi and myself chose to start Crescent. It was not an idea that was pushed upon us given that we all were doing major things in our respective fields in terms of sickle cell patient advocacy. Each of us had already been in this non-profit space, whether through our own start-ups or working for other organizations. I like to think we all were doing great staying in our own lane. However, as someone who does not believe in coincidences, the three of us sort of walked into our history together out of necessity and constant grief. Grief that kept finding us year after year and us only having each other to hold each other up during these moments was undoubtedly what brought us together. Knowing it was time for us to begin manifesting the very things we often spoke of when ran into each other at community events or in the hallways of our beloved pediatric hospital, CHOP.
It became apparent that all of our advocacy work as young adults would have to come together to create this space that was needed not only for our peers but for us too. In the Black conscious community, there is often an analogy used to unite Black and Brown folks together, it goes “our unity is stronger than an atomic bomb”. Meaning the three of us, Kyle, Ediomi, and myself working together with common goals in mind, while laying a foundation complete with four core values that represent Crescent, Transparency, Equity, Innovation, and Community, could really set this world ablaze in regards to advocating for the adult sickle cell community. With something new, fresh, and being lead by 3 young adults with sickle cell disease it was time to get “litty” 🔥🔥🔥 and put Philly on the map in terms of programming and advocating for adults living with SCD.
The obligation we each felt to begin Crescent was backed by a team of mentors who knew of our work ethic individually and encouraged us to “do for self” what we had been needing our elders in the community-based organization spaces to do all of our lives. We had no other choice but to do it, bring Crescent to life, give our peers the community-based organization and support they have needed for years or it would not be done. There was no longer any room to complain, given we are all adults now, it was time to work and work hard. We were obligated to advocate for our peers on this level. We were obligated to bring something anew!
In order for Crescent to achieve the ongoing success, we wanted to have there were essential programs we began to brainstorm that would not only set us apart from other sickle cell advocacy organizations but also catapult us as a well-established organization. One of those essential programs is our Bridging The Gap: A Peer Mentoring Webinar Series (BTG). BTG focuses on that transitioning stage from pediatric to adult healthcare facilities, where it can be a challenging process for people with SCD. On a weekly basis, Crescent offers hour-long webinars on key topics of interest to patients transitioning between the ages 18-24. The goal is to teach patients how to smoothly transition to, and navigate through, the adult care system. A program such as BTG is important because we are reaching the age group that has (insert statistic here) increased mortality rate within the first 1-3 years of transitioning into adult care. BTG has become one of my favorite programs to host for the past year because it is impactful and simple to implement with technology platforms like Zoom. My hope for BTG is to have it implemented within other organizations throughout the country and across the world.
Everything we speak about, we manifest through hard work and capacity building. Crescent is here to stay and innovative programming has become part of our culture. Keeping a pulse on the SCD community’s needs will keep us ahead of the curve when creating dope programs out of necessity, obligation and that is essential.