Monday 15 June 2015

The Breathe With Me Strawfie Challenge

We've got an amazing dedicated community out there, especially among those of you raising both awareness and funds through not just individual events but also your own great initiatives and campaign.

A recent example of success these past few months has been the Breathe With Me single and Strawfie Challenge, so who better to ask for inspiration and the story behind it, then the team who made it happen.

The Breathe With Me Strawfie Challenge began with a simple idea – to write a song asking people to try experiencing the struggle to breathe that people with CF live with. The way they could experience this was by breathing through a straw while pinching their nose – an exercise that has been used for many years by CF campaigners.

Inspiration struck and ‘Breathe With Me’ was recorded by annaJo, a songstress from Crawley living with cystic fibrosis who insisted on a group name to recognise the joint effort behind the project. The song was billed as ‘Breathe With Me by TWF featuring annaJo’. TWF stands for ‘Together We Fight’. In December 2014 ‘Breathe With Me’ made the semi-finals of the UK Songwriting Contest in both ‘Music Video’ and ‘Lyrics’ categories.

Several months later, it occurred to the ‘Breathe With Me’ team we could use another modern phenomenon to help spread our message, by asking people to take a selfie doing the straw breathing exercise and develop a social media campaign with people nominating their friends to take part. The description ‘straw breathing selfie’ proved a bit of a mouthful and the Strawfie was born!

The first big event we visited with the Strawfie concept was Butserfest, a music festival aimed at teenagers. This resulted in a fantastic opportunity to have ‘Breathe With Me’ played from the main stage while festival-goers took Strawfies.

Since then, the Strawfie Team has attended many events. The Great South Run was a particular highlight as we were featured in Channel 5’s coverage when Joyce Griffin, a mother of three children with CF, was interviewed at the starting line.

Recently, we gained the support of Miss Hampshire, Larissa Hirst, and through her campaigning, several other Miss England contestants have posted their glamorous Strawfies.

So what’s next for the Strawfie Challenge? We would love the CF community to help us get our first big celebrity Strawfie. The CF community is spread far and wide, with many talented individuals in every field. We know some of you must know a celebrity, but who will be the first to ask that person to post a Strawfie?

Interest in the campaign is building all the time and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has asked us to share our story as part of their #PowerOfUs campaign. We share their belief that working together and supporting each other is where the strength of the CF community lies.

Recently we have begun to receive Strawfies from as far afield as Australia and the USA. The big vision when we started this journey was to involve the worldwide CF community, because together we can shout louder about our cause.

Hopefully Strawfies will keep coming and we need you to keep working to create opportunities to incorporate Strawfies into ANY kind of event or organisation you have an involvement with, particularly non-CF events as the aim is to spread awareness.

Our heartfelt hope is this campaign will greatly raise the profile of CF among the general public, increasing awareness and fundraising efforts. We share the prayer of the entire cystic fibrosis community – that a cure will result from all of our joint efforts and people will never have to experience breathing in a restricted way. In the words of the song “Together we will find a way, I know we’ll win this fight…”

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