Today we find ourselves exactly one month out from the annual international World Diabetes Day observance on Nov. 14, and just a few short weeks away from yet another national Diabetes Awareness Month.
It can be a bittersweet time for those of us who are pancreatically-challenged, as we see the simultaneous overwhelming and exciting waves of diabetes advocacy and awareness being bantered about.
Those of us living with diabetes every day obviously don't need a special month or day to remind us; this time of year is our chance to focus on awakening the general public with accurate information the best we can.
So, what's on tap for this November that we might like to know about?
Quite a bit, as always. Here's a sneak peek at some key programs to look forward to in the next six weeks:
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Our D-Community is gearing up for another round of the Big Blue Test. Remember this campaign, in which you're supposed to check your blood sugar, then engage in 14 to 20 minutes of exercise, and test your blood sugar again immediately after to record the change? Data from last year's pretty much speaks for itself on what a difference this little bit of activity can make, reducing blood sugars by an average of 20%.
This year, the campaign starts Monday, Oct. 20, and runs through Nov. 19, 2014. The goal is to reach 35,000 entries (higher than the 20,000 the past couple years), and you don't have to living with diabetes yourself to participate. Every Big Blue Test that's entered means $1 will be donated to charitable organizations that provide life-saving insulin and supplies to people with diabetes, both here in the States and in the Dominican Republic.
Check out this fun video from our friends at the Diabetes Hero Squad (aka, longtime type 1 PWD Brad Slaight) on this year's testing campaign:
The crew at the Diabetes Hands Foundation spearheading this initiative is also hoping that more people take the campaign into the workplace and at school this year. So aside from just participating personally, they encourage us to think about how to get others involved. And the DHF will also be launching a "Show Me Your Big Blue Test" video contest, where the first batch of people to make videos of their test(s) will receive BBT gym packs.
And fellow type 1 PWD Mike Lawson from the DHF tells us, "We are also excited that each test will result in $1 donated to charity... making it easy for Big Blue Test-ers to keep track of the number of dollars their sweat will generate."
Going Blue with IDF
The Belgium-based International Diabetes Federation (IDF), which created the World Diabetes Day (WDD) observance in 1991 and later pushed though a UN Resolution prioritizing diabetes as a world health threat, has new theme for 2014: Healthy Living and Diabetes (Uh, isn't that always top of mind?!)
The list of activities they're encouraging folks to take part in this year includes "Go Blue for Breakfast" -- a campaign showcasing healthy recipes from around the world, but sadly as of now it doesn't look like there's anything set up here in the States... maybe we can help change that!
They are again pushing the international "Blue Monument Challenge" -- asking advocates to help to get iconic buildings and sites in your country/city lit up in blue this year. IDF says it hasn't started tracking 2014 participants yet for that.
There's a fun new Blue Circle selfie campaign centered on the the IDF's new WDD Selfie App. The app allows you to get creative with the Blue Circle as the global symbol for diabetes -- helping to raise awareness "as it still means nothing to many people!"
And the IDF's Pin a Personality initiative seems to have taken off, promoting the Blue Circle and diabetes awareness by publicly placing Blue Circle pins on celebrities. More than 50,000 have been distributed, we're told. One of those that caught our eye: Bradley Whitford, probably most well known for his TV role as White House exec Josh Lyman on the West Wing. He was pinned at an event in Wisconsin supporting a candidate for governor, and he spoke to a D-Mom advocate there who gave him the pin and he told her about a friend whose 11-month old son was recently diagnosed with type 1. Very cool to see him become a supporter!
IDF also let us know they'll be launching a WDD social media campaign on Nov. 1 together with a new WDD landing page, and they will also be sharing a WDD 2014 Guide during the week of Oct. 20 with all the key messages and useful info for the campaign.
Check out IDF's full list of WDD's planned awareness activities here.
Light Blue? ADA & JDRF
The two big national diabetes advocacy orgs here in the States are also putting plans together, though it's difficult to get any word from local chapters, as many are still trying to finalize and coordinate events, even though we're into mid-October already.
American Diabetes Association: At the national level, the ADA is behind a new theme of: America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes, aimed at inspiring people to live a more active and healthier lifestyle, empowering us to cook nutritious and delicious food, and just be more active. Hmm, this sounds a lot like IDF's theme this year...?
The ADA says that during November, it will be offering tips online to stay healthy during the Holiday Season, and coordinating info about special food-themed events and recipes. They've recruited D.J. Spinderella, who some may know from her role with hip-hop group Salt-n-Pepa back in the 90s, to help promote this food-based campaign.
JDRF: The type 1 diabetes org is following suit from what it did last year, launching for 2014 what it calls a "No Type One Diabetes" social media campaign centered around the Thunderclap online platform that begins on Nov. 1 (it's self-proclaimed #T1DDay first launched in 2011). You can join that Thunderclap project here and spread the word before Oct. 31, allowing a JDRF message to be shared on your feed once Nov. 1 arrives. They're also encouraging all of us to change our social media profile pictures to the org's November awareness logo, as well as make a video on "How you would turn Type One into Type None?" explaining what it would be like without T1. The site also promotes the latest on JDRF research. This campaign uses the #noT1D hashtag on Twitter.
The JDRF has also released a November 2014 video, though it's simply a recycled version of the clever video it released last year, which many in the D-Community praised at the time.
Project Blue November
One of the newer online efforts is called Project Blue November, a very attractive website that lists all sorts of diabetes awareness campaigns and charities. The organizers of this group are a bit hard to identify (not clearly named on the site), but we know that well-known diabetes advocate and D-Mom Moira McCarthy Stanford is one of them. Moira says "we kind of want to be stealth about it -- it is not so much about the "us" as it is about the "We." But she tells us this group met through past World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchanges (info below) and felt the need to work together to up the awareness ante for the month of November and the whole "blue initiative" that's caught fire in some spots int he world, but not as much here in the U.S. Moira tells us:
We are a group of folks from all over the U.S. who know one another via diabetes connections... in the Fall, with the whole Ice Bucket Challenge, we kept hearing people say "nothing is done for diabetes," when in fact, much is (and sure -- there can be more and there will be more!) But a few of us decided we needed to find a way to give people a place where they can touch base with as much about diabetes awareness as possible -- we think of it as a kind of "Publisher's Clearing House" for diabetes awareness. We decided to launch this with a goal of uniting folks for November, but also all year long."
For November, Moira says the plan is to highlight already-existing D-awareness initiatives and organizations and rally people to support them. The group will be sharing special content, holding contests and doing some building light ups, more pins, state proclamations and the like. They'll be offering tools for everyone to use for awareness, too -- like "fact a day" posts that are easily shareable on all social media platforms and a "30 days of Diabetes on Instagram" event.
Another highlight will be a special program dubbed #RockingItLikeRichard, an interactive month-long event celebrating our D-Community's "everyday diabetes hero" Richard Vaughn, who was diagnosed with type 1 almost seven decades ago. The plan is to link his success in life to the dreams, goals and successes of many other "everyday heroes." Moira says the hope is to have 10,000 likes on Facebook by Nov. 14.
There are also a number of smaller D-groups launching initiatives as we near November. Those include the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation that just received its official non-profit designation in early October (congrats!) and Diabetes Sisters, that will launch its own November Twitter campaign.
And btw: It's still TBD whether the annual World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange will take place for 2014. The Postcard Exchange is an initiative to connect people affected by diabetes from around the world with each other during the month of November with a "pen pal" program exchanging cards in the mail. As of Monday, its organizer, our friend and fellow type 1 Lee Ann Thill, was still undecided if she'll have the bandwidth to make it happen this year.
Stay tuned for more news of these efforts and new grassroots awareness campaigns.
We'd love to hear what you have planned or what you're looking forward to with Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day this year. Please let us know, D-Friends!