Do We Need a “National Timeout from Declaring Things Month?”

Working in government for nine years, I’ve been primed to the existence of special months or weeks for various causes.

However, in each of the last nine years, my scale of impatience about these special months or weeks has increased consistently and with added confusion.

I reached a breaking point in the last few days as I’ve encountered the following special months or weeks in April (and there are probably more!):

  • Distracted Driving Awareness Month
  • National Volunteer Week
  • National Victim Rights Week
  • Work Zone Safety Week
  • Child Abuse Awareness Month
  • National County Government Month
  • National Public Safety Telecommunications Week
  • National Public Health Week
  • National 9-1-1 Education Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • Fair Housing Month
  • Donate Life Month
  • Pet Preparedness Twitter Challenge in April
  • National Youth Violence Prevention Week
  • World Health Day

These are all worthy causes and important facets of our lives, but to the average resident even remotely paying attention, doesn’t this list look silly when viewed together? What about the other 11 months or 51 weeks of the year when, by logic, it’s not distracted driving awareness month or national public health week? Are we supposed to forget about those topics in “off” weeks or months? If the goal to reach everyone, then how can people possibly muddle through this menu of months with an ounce of attention?

I understand the premise of declaring these weeks/months — to garner focused attention for a period of time about issue X or topic Y. Does this work, though, especially in a social convergence era? Are the needles on these topics moving because of these declarations or are these timeframes rote and just recycled every year as a way to check a box? It feels like these weeks/months come from an era of only three nightly news options or only Johnny Carson for comedy at 11:30 p.m. I’m sure there’s something important designated for June, but it may be top of my mind in April and I need the information now.

Maybe it’s time to declare July as National Timeout from Declaring Things Month so these designated timeframes can be rethought rather than rehashed every year. Thirteen Fifteen declared topics in a one- or two-week period seems like overkill to this government “junkie” or “insider.”

Your ideas? Your experiences (either as a government communicator or just as a consumer)?

UPDATE 1: April 7-11 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week.

UPDATE 2: April 7 is World Health Day.

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By @g_r_e_g Posted in #gov20

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