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By Melanie Padgett Powers, Managing Editor

Podcasting is considered a more personal form of communications. Listeners feel like they know the podcast host, who seems to be talking directly into their ears on a regular basis.

That personal connection allows podcasters and their fans to build a community around whatever the topic is. Last summer, Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) embraced this unique and very popular platform to educate and connect young adults in the bleeding disorders community.

The BloodFlow is a young adult podcast created and launched by 2020 virtual summer intern Tameelah Dawson, under the guidance of Kimberly Ramseur, HFA senior manager for policy and advocacy.

Dawson graduated with a psychology degree in May 2021 from Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. This fall, she is heading to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University聽to earn a master鈥檚 degree in community psychology. She hopes to work as a community psychologist in an urban area.

A Mental Health Focus

Because of Dawson鈥檚 interest in mental health, that鈥檚 what she focused the first podcast episode on. In that episode, released July 23, 2020, she interviewed bleeding disorders advocates and young adults Ashley Johnson and Bradley Odac about how growing up with a bleeding disorder affected their mental health.

In the bleeding disorders community, Dawson said, 鈥淲e don鈥檛 ask questions about mental health, like, 鈥榟ow is your mental health dealing with a bleeding disorder?鈥 I wanted to take it from a young adult perspective and see how it affected young adults.鈥

While mental health conversations increased during the pandemic, it鈥檚 still not always comfortable to talk about. 鈥淏radley and Ashley were great about speaking out,鈥 Dawson said. 鈥淚t felt good to not only talk about mental health while having a bleeding disorder, but they also spoke about relationships and how it was when mentioning your bleeding disorder within a relationship or when you were going to college.鈥

Dawson has received positive feedback about the show. 鈥淎 lot of people said the podcast was helpful. I know a few young adults who would like to come on the show.鈥

Ramseur oversaw the technical aspects of the show鈥攃reating a logo, selecting the recording and hosting software, submitting the podcast to podcast directories (Apple, Spotify, Google podcasts, etc.). She provided guidance, and she and Dawson worked together to recruit guests and develop interview questions. But, Ramseur encouraged Dawson and other young adults to run with their ideas.

鈥淲e wanted young adults to take the lead and be the voice behind the podcast,鈥 Ramseur explained.

Dawson 鈥渄id a phenomenal job,鈥 she said. 鈥淚t was nice to hear them express themselves in the ways they did. She did a great job in making them feel comfortable about having a conversation about mental health and their bleeding disorder.鈥

Advocacy-focused Episodes

Will Hubbert, also a 2020 HFA advocacy intern, got involved too, developing and hosting six episodes in 2020 and 2021 so far. Hubbert graduated in May 2021 with a history degree from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

鈥淧odcasting is very familiar [to listeners],鈥 Hubbert said. 鈥淲riting is a skill that takes a lifetime to master, especially writing with a distinct voice in a way that鈥檚 engaging and entertaining, but also conveys actionable information. But there鈥檚 something very conversational about sitting down and just having a chat with someone.鈥

Hubbert鈥檚 episodes showcase his interest in advocacy. In the August 18, 2020, episode he interviewed a staffer from Young Invincibles, a nonprofit that advocates for young adults about navigating the health insurance market with a chronic illness. In the November 9, 2020, episode he interviewed a congressional staffer from Sen. Joe Manchin鈥檚 (D-WV) office. In his April 20, 2021, episode, he interviewed California public school science teacher Hector Moreno about finding and managing employment with hemophilia.

Hubbert said he had experience with in-person facilitation and being interviewed but not with recording a podcast鈥攚hich was done over the phone. 鈥淚t was trial by fire, figuring out the cadence of the show and getting into that groove of producing content for an exclusively audio, after-the-fact, edited format,鈥 he explained. 鈥淚 was used to doing stuff live.鈥

One of the challenges, he said, was balancing going straight through his list of questions versus responding organically to what guests were saying. He also was aware of not monopolizing the conversation and learning how to build rapport with guests.

Ramseur has been impressed with the preparation Hubbert undertakes before recording each interview. 鈥淚t鈥檚 more like a conversation,鈥 she said. 鈥淗e takes the time to do the research and really get involved in the conversation. He asks some awesome in-depth questions.鈥

More Episodes to Come

A new episode of The BloodFlow has been released every month or two, based on guest and host availability. There will likely be new episodes this year with a 2021 advocacy summer intern as a host. In addition, the HFA Young Adult Advocacy Summit this fall may offer an opportunity to record episodes and/or recruit participants. The Summit will be held virtually September 18鈥21 in Washington, DC.

While the primary podcast audience is young adults, Ramseur would like the audience to expand. Listening to young adults鈥 experience can be helpful to others in the community as well.

鈥淢oving forward, it would be nice to see it grow,鈥 she said. 鈥淢aybe it鈥檚 not only young adults who hear it, but providers, parents and younger teens so they get a better idea of the issues young adults may not express to others and have a better understanding of what鈥檚 going on with them. We would all benefit from that.鈥

If you have episode ideas or questions about The BloodFlow鈥攐r would like to get involved or be a guest on the show鈥攅mail advocacy@hemophiliafed.org. To listen to the podcast, search 鈥淭he BloodFlow鈥 on any podcast app.


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