I’d like to highlight the remarkable and important work that the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) has done in educational outreach.
It seems that every issue of their journal, The Point, has a report about their participation in events designed to educate and inform, but if you don’t read The Point regularly, you might not be aware of it. Representatives of the APP make regular appearances at national public health and nursing conferences, spicing up convention centers and educating about body piercing. They make their own conference (going on next week!) available free of tuition to health inspectors. And they have stepped up their international outreach efforts, too, trying to boost all piercers’ professionalism, and educate as many groups as possible about safe body piercing practices. Along with educating piercers themselves, this is the other, very important task the APP has set itself.
Consider this quote from Didier Suarez, who recently attended the American Public Health Associaton conference in San Diego:
. . . many attendees were unaware of the dangers of ear-piercing guns; that they cannot be sterilized, that the jewelry is an inferior material, and that a blunt stud is used to puncture the tissue. Just that information was an eye-opener to almost every attendee I spoke with personally.
And these attendees were medical professionals, public health workers, educators, and students. These are pretty important segments of the population to educate about body piercing! Other conferences which the APP appears at include those of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). (I’m sure there’s an important nursing conference, too, but right now I can’t find it.)
Here’s the link to the latest issue of The Point (.pdf), from which the above quote comes from. The Point is always worth reading, and I notice the online version has all color pictures, which is nice: The Point Spring 09
I don’t know if this kind of outreach is unique in the body modification world; the above-quoted article suggests that the conference attendees were hungry for tattooing information, too, but that there were no similar efforts by tattoo professionals. Connections have also been made with international body art conferences, such as the Italian association of piercers and tattooers (APTPI) and the BMXNet events in Germany. I like that the Italian conferences end in a “traditional debate of the . . . Board members and Conference Participants,” (The Point, Vol. 38 p. 6). That sounds . . . lively.
I do know that the APP has been involved in an extraordinary exchange of information in the recent annual conferences in Mexico. There’s a huge interest in piercings in Mexico and Latin America, and the APP has been running conferences in Mexico City for the last few years, despite many obstacles, not the least being the language difference. From reading the descriptions in The Point, the piercers and public health officials there soak up the educational offerings like sponges. (The APP is really stepping up their efforts in the Spanish language in the US, too, making classes and brochures available in that language.) Danny Yerma, of Wakantanka in Mexico City, is the International Outreach Coordinator and he’s a fantastic piercer, who has produced his own body art magazine in Mexico and really worked hard to get the word out in that country.
Now that would be an interesting conference to go to! And, by coincidence, I happen to speak Spanish pretty well. I wouldn’t want to go alone, but if I could find someone to go with me, I’d love to volunteer at that one. As long as they lick that pesky swine flu thing, of course.
As you can see, there’s a lot of public education still needing to be done. I wish all Pierced Consumers could do more in that endeavor. I like to think that what I do is a kind of outreach, but I’d love to have an APP presence in my town. Maybe I’ll look into Border Health conferences; there’s got to be something . . .
I know some piercers who have problems with the politics of the APP (committee politics is never fun), or their very strict and rather expensive membership rules, or who simply are not joiners. But piercees can support these outreach and educational efforts without worrying about all that, either directly, by volunteering at the APP conference, by doing outreach in your community, or monetarily. The APP website has a page which says you can make tax-deductible donations and get various rewards (bumper sticker, video) at various levels (though I don’t know anyone who does this). You can also sign up to be a Patron Member for dues of $50 annually.
Even if you’re not a fan of the APP or don’t have the money, sometimes outreach for all of us is as simple as answering a friend’s questions, or recommending a really good piercer. So think about spreading the point.
ETA: I think I’m channeling the APP because I’m missing the conference this year. I also forgot to explicitly express my appreciation to all the volunteers and staff at the APP who make the above-described outreach possible. Thanks!
Pic courtesy of Jam343 at Flickr.