The prompt: Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you.
Getting fired up about diabetes related advocacy or causes seems fraught with awkwardness. “Hi, yes, I’m a person with diabetes and I’d like you to listen to my uber-brilliant perspective on issues x, y and z. And while you’re at it, could you make a fat donation to d research?”
Who stands to benefit from shouting my d-cause from the top of the mountain? Me. I just can’t get over the idea that advocacy seems ultimately self-serving. (Certainly when it comes to fundraising for research.) But I do understand that fundraising and getting governments to invest in d-related research benefits millions of very lovely people who deserve to live a high quality life (and maybe even d-free one day)!
Want me to campaign for human rights? You got it. Need me to advocate for those with disabilities? I’m there. (And it’s probably worth noting that I don’t see Type 1 as a disability. A pain in the ass? For sure, but a disability, no.) Can I help you organize and run a community event, building inter generational connections? I’m all over it. Food security? Who wouldn’t advocate for that?
But what will I spend my energy on, when it comes to diabetes?
I’m a teacher by training, and I am passionate about helping kids have those light bulb moments coupled with a massive grin. I love the energy and laughter of a vibrant learning environment and watching kids grow academically, physically, socially and emotionally. I want kids to know that the sky is the limit.
I am totally stoked about the fact that two kids are coming into our Grade 6 class next year who are Type 1’s with pumps. I want to be a role model. I want to have them believe that the sky’s the limit when they think about their future. The sky’s the limit whether they are “tethered expats” just like me, hooked to an insulin pump, or they are untethered kids. They probably already have parents who fill their buckets with this message, but I consider it my responsibility to be a “real” role model, somebody who can show them that the international adventure road as a PWD is bumpy and challenging, but possible and there are lots of ways to keep you headed in the direction you choose.
As I think about “giving back” you won’t find me knocking door-to-door or working a table at the mall, handing out pamphlets. But I need to find out more ways to connect with kids. Doing what I love to do and am trained to do in an active learning environment, all with a d-twist. Maybe that’s my diabetes advocacy passion … doing right by kids with diabetes.