Welcome back to November and another National Diabetes Awareness Month, Friends!
There's always a ton happening for this big D-awareness month, with World Diabetes Day taking place annually on Nov. 14 in honor of the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin back in 1921.
Remember, this month-long campaign was mainly created to raise the profile of diabetes among the general public, but those of us already living with this illness like to rally 'round to amp up the volume. Look out for hashtags galore!
Earmarking a month for diabetes
As a refresher, National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM) was established more than four decades ago in 1975, though the American Diabetes Association (ADA) didn't trademark the term "American Diabetes Month" until 1997. Meanwhile, World Diabetes Day was launched by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 1991 to call attention to this worldwide pandemic, and it got a big boost when the United Nations issued a resolution in 2006, ushering in the first UN-recognized WDD the following year.
For more background and history of NDAM and WDD, see this overview.
Also see this link to understand why the Blue Circle was chosen as the international symbol for diabetes.
Beyond things like ton of general media coverage, state proclamations and White House nods to diabetes that date back to the early 1980s, there's always a lot planned in November to get people activated both locally and nationally. There are usually loads of social media campaigns, often including daily memes to raise awareness, and campaigns that bring diabetes awareness into schools and workplaces to spread the good word.
We've compiled a rundown of some of the most prominent stuff happening for 2019. This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but we asked a few of the largest diabetes orgs and some smaller nonprofits about their plans, and here's what we have learned:
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
The country's largest diabetes org is focusing on its "Count Me In" campaign that encourages people at risk for type 2 diabetes to take action: they can take an online Risk Test, get their A1C measured at Walmart or CVS, and download a tip sheet for how to talk with your doctor about diabetes.
Starting Nov. 1, the ADA is encouraging people to use the #CountMeInADA hashtag on social media as a way to "show the world that we are united."
Beyond Type 1
All month long, Beyond Type 1 will be encouraging the community to participate in a social media campaign called #TheDropSpotted. Simply put, this is about making an invisible disease visible. BT1 says those interested can sport the org's signature hat with blood drop icon, put a profile frame on their Facebook photo, or add "The Drop" to photos online -- and then share info about how diabetes has impacted their life, using the #TheDropSpotted hashtag.
BT1 says it's an easy way to unite the community around a common goal this November: creating a world with less stigma, more education, more empathy, and more support for research on the path to a cure. That campaign will run on all BT1 platforms: Beyond Type 1, Beyond Type 2, Beyond Type 1 en Español, and Beyond Type 2 en Español.
The organization also has a Beyond Type Run team that will be running the New York City marathon on Nov. 3, including 30 runners all living with T1D.
A few other things to look out for: every week in November, Beyond Type 1 will be producing and airing interviews with diabetes experts on Facebook Live. With their expansive reach, you'll also likely see this org mentioned and participating in other awareness campaigns throughout the month.
This D-Month, JDRF is launching a new celebratory campaign: “T1D Champions. All day. Every day.” The theme celebrates “small, every day wins” in the lives of people in the T1D community, as well as the big accomplishments.​
"Staying on top of T1D takes the diligence, discipline, and resilience of a champion, but people living with T1D are rarely celebrated in the same way," JDRF states. So throughout November, the JDRF will feature stories of everyday PWDs (people with diabetes) across all organizational platforms, including www.JRDF.org/ndam, @JDRFHQ on Instagram, and @JDRF on Twitter.
International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
Much like last year, the IDF is running a theme of "Family and Diabetes." It's a two-year effort, and the IDF says the point is to: A) Raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, and B) Promote the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes. Specifically, they note:
- Families have a key role to play in addressing the modifiable risk factors for type 2 diabetes and must be provided with the education, resources and environments to live a healthy lifestyle.
- All families are potentially affected by diabetes and so awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors for all types of diabetes are vital to help detect it early.
- Diabetes can be expensive for the individual and family. In many countries, the cost of insulin injection and daily monitoring alone can consume half of a family’s average disposable income, and regular and affordable access to essential diabetes medicines are out of reach for too many. Improving access to affordable diabetes medicines and care is therefore urgent to avoid increased costs for the individual and family, which impact on health outcomes.
- Fewer than 1 in 4 family members have access to diabetes education programs. Family support in diabetes care has been shown to have a substantial effect in improving health outcomes for people with diabetes. It is therefore important that ongoing diabetes self-management education and support be accessible to all people with diabetes and their families to reduce the emotional impact of the disease that can result in a negative quality of life.
The IDF's website shows more than 560 live events, big and small, planned for World Diabetes Day in more than 87 countries worldwide -- with a majority being overseas in Europe and Asia. These range from small rallies to hospital awareness events, to expos/fairs and blue lightings of national monuments.
UK-based global org T1international leads the #insulin4all advocacy efforts worldwide and has led the live protests on the insulin pricing crisis in America. Founder and fellow T1 Elizabeth Pfiester (who is American but lives in Europe) says T1I has launched a ~5 minute video and campaign called "Patients Have Power." It's aimed at the U.S. insulin pricing crisis, with some global notes. The org is highlighting individual stories and examples of people using their voices to influence change.
"The theme will help show that people with diabetes are leading the fight for affordable insulin and that patients have power, deserve respect, and should be an integral part of leadership for all campaigns and actions," Pfiester said. "We will likely keep using the #insulin4all hashtag and also #PatientsHavethePower, along with relevant WDD tags."
This California-based group of D-Moms known as EASE T1D was established several years ago, and the two remaining active founders, Debbie George and Michelle Thornburg, tell us they big have plans in place for this year's D-Month. They're continuing efforts to recruit local fire department employees with T1D to share their stories, in a broad D-Awareness campaign displayed on billboards and vehicle decals, and on fire house banners, plus online.
They've also worked with several California school districts to air diabetes awareness videos, such as their "We Have Type 1 Diabetes" video and a June 2019 video featuring rock star Bret Michaels who lives with T1D himself! EASE T1D is using the hashtag #GoBigGoBoldGoBlue !
If you know of other NDAM or World Diabetes Day activities or events worth sharing, please ping us via email or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Thanks!