Were you a child with diabetes? Or do you have one? If so, or even if you happen to be an adult effected by type 1 diabetes, it's worth looking into the great advocacy work done by JDRF's Children's Congress.
I wrote about this effort once before, but felt it was a good time to re-visit the topic given that applications to participate in the 2011 Congress are due by 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, October 4! (Click here for details.) The 2011 Congress will take place next summer, June 20-22.
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About the Children's Congress:
This effort was launched a little over 10 years ago, inspired by an 8-year-old boy from Massachusetts named Tommy Solo, who thought it would be really great if kids had an opportunity to meet with elected officials in Congress, not just their parents — "because no one knows better what it's like to live with type 1 diabetes than kids who have it." Good thinking!
The idea is to bring together a group of selected child delegates, ages 4 to 17, who represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia every two years to visit our nation's capitol, to lobby for diabetes awareness and support of legislation that furthers research toward a cure.
Children's Congress delegates participate in a myriad of events during their four days in Washington, DC, including meeting their elected officials (arranged by the folks at JDRF), performing the Children's Congress theme song ("Promise to Remember Me") on the steps of the Capitol, and attending a Senate hearing where selected delegates testify along with JDRF spokespeople like Mary Tyler Moore. While delegates can only participate in Children's Congress once in a lifetime, many go on to become diabetes advocates in their own hometowns, raising awareness with their local media and participating in local fund-raising events.
Why It's Inspiring:
Across the board, the KWDs (kids with diabetes) who've attended this event say it's a life experience they'll never forget.
Asa Kelly, a teen who testified before a Senate committee during Children's Congress 2009, says, "Children's Congress was definitely a life changing experience. To be around people who struggle with the same things I do was extremely helpful. The program was power-packed with events, but each event was very memorable. From the town hall meeting with celebrities to the meeting at the White House to the Senate Hearing on Capitol Hill each second of our time was occupied. I truly will never forget it and I wish I could go back again."
Nowadays, Asa is a JDRF Youth Ambassador and a member of the first ever JDRF Charlotte Chapter Student Leadership Board.
Another delegate well-known in the D-OC is our own Allison Blass, who represented Oregon in 2001. She says, "Children's Congress was the launchpad for my own diabetes advocacy career. It made me more aware of the struggles of others, and it also empowered me to do something about it! It's a great way for kids to be a part of finding a cure for diabetes."
Again, JDRF is currently accepting applications for Children's Congress 2011. Over a hundred children will travel east with a parent. If they're lucky, they might meet Nick Jonas or the President (both made an appearance at the 2009 Children's Congress!).
The rules for becoming an applicant are pretty simple:
- Have type 1 diabetes
- Be between the ages of 4 and 17 on June 20, 2011
- Have never been a Children's Congress delegate before
Specifically, JDRF is looking for "a cross-section of children with type 1 diabetes in America today... (to) reflect the nation's gender, racial and ethnic diversity. Delegates (or a parent in the case of small children) must be willing to share their compelling story about life with diabetes and their interest in a cure."
If your child would like an opportunity to be part of this inspiring movement, then you'd better act fast!