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My Better Way: Give a Duck Community

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

The second in a series

Last month I wrote about my growing discomfort with Twitter that ended with the assertion: There’s got to be a better way. This essay is about my better way.

What I have personally been missing is a safe space online that I can go to for peer support. I need to connect with other health advocates – whether they are patients or professionals – in a gentle space that feels safe to me. Twitter is not that place for me anymore.

I'm a big fan of peer support. Many of us health advocates are floating around on our own. We need each other, for together we are stronger. I have a long history of lobbying for and starting up support groups. I’ve had formal peer support training and have presented on the value of peer support many times to health professional groups. I’ve learned that the key is to provide a safe, non-judgemental space for people to share their stories, connect, learn together and raise each other up.

I was co-founder of a support group for families with new babies with Down syndrome because I didn’t know any other mothers when my son was born. The Down Syndrome Medical Clinic at the local children’s hospital began with a strong lobby effort from me and other families. The council at my son's children’s hospital began with another lobbying effort from us polite yet persistent moms. A Vice-Principal at Aaron’s elementary school supported my efforts to start a monthly Inclusion Group for families who had kids with Educational Assistants in the classroom.

Fast forward to today. As someone who prides herself in being a health care rabble-rouser, these past years of the pandemic and our weak public health response have exhausted me. I cannot continue to bang on my drum about humanity in health care by myself anymore. I need others to cheerlead and to take the baton when I’m feeling tired. Maybe you feel this way too.

This is the ‘why’ behind the new Give a Duck community. To ensure that the community truly responds to the needs of other health care advocates - and not just me - I sent out a survey asking questions about features, topics and subscription prices. I received 88 responses back!

Here are some of the results, which will help me tailor the site according to the needs of the Give a Duck community. As I like to say about health care: ask for feedback but then actually do something with it...

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who is behind Give a Duck?

Give a Duck is my community. My partner and husband Mike Waddingham is the brains behind the business and tech side of the site. He will be the moderator and I’ll provide the content. We have a graphics whiz from our company Bird Comm designing the look of the site.

2. What platform will be hosting Give a Duck?

After reviewing and experimenting with several private network solutions we have chosen Mighty Networks – you can check them out here.

3. What does the community look like?

Here is a screenshot of our test site:

Give a Duck looks similar to a social media feed, but it is members-only and will offer courses, resources and events. My jam includes supporting advocates; patient and staff engagement and well-being; patient experience; and the arts and humanities in health care, so expect to see this kind of content to start. The content will diversify once people join and start sharing their own wisdom and resources!

4. Why are you charging for subscriptions?

First, we have four subscription plans - including free trials and a no-cost option. We are independent and we do not accept funds from organizations like governments or pharmaceutical companies.

This approach ensures we keep our independence and can support advocates without conflicts of interest.

We charge subscription fees because:

  1. We want to ensure a high-quality experience on the site. To achieve this, we need to pay our small team to create engaging content and courses, and to cover the cost of professional services like graphic design.

  2. The Mighty Network platform used by Give a Duck has monthly fees.

  3. We compensate speakers and writers! We don’t believe that people should work for free.

If you are unable to pay for a subscription, we have the Ducks Equity Plan for $0/month, no questions asked!

5. When can I sign up?

Give a Duck’s launch date is Tuesday November 22, 2022.

At that time, I’ll share a link to join to people on my email list. You can get this advance notice by joining my email list right here on my website.

When you sign up to Give a Duck you will be asked to answer a few questions. Members are vetted and approved to keep the space private and safe. This is a pro-science and health care community – so, for example, if you are not supportive of COVID vaccines or masks this isn’t the place for you.

You pick a plan and then I’ll welcome you onboard!

Please email Mike and I at with your questions. This is new to us and we are figuring it out. If we don't know an answer, we will find out and get back to you.

To quote the concluding words of the prescient movie Don't Look Up: I'm grateful we tried. Our health system has collapsed. Join me on Give a Duck to keep trying to advocate for more humane and compassionate health care environments for us all.

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