Here we are in November 2021, yet another National Diabetes Awareness Month!
There’s always a ton happening for this big 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.
This is an especially momentous year in diabetes history, marking 100 years since the discovery of insulin — meaning even more initiatives and campaigns this November geared toward raising the profile of diabetes among the general public, as well as educating and supporting our own D-Community.
Here’s a look at activities — organized mostly by well-known advocacy orgs — that have come across our DiabetesMine radar so far. Please let us know if you’re aware of any others worth mentioning throughout the month via social media.
This year’s theme from the big American Diabetes Association (ADA) is #TheBigStepUp, designed to challenge those with diabetes and their loved ones to take a “big step up” for better overall health and a “future without diabetes.” The ADA has outlined simple yet impactful ways to recognize the symptoms of diabetes and manage it.
The ADA also has weekly themes for each week in November:
- Awareness (week of Nov. 1): The focus is on driving awareness for the 1 in 5 adults who are living with diabetes but don’t yet know it, through resources, education, and materials, in both English and Spanish.
- Detection(week of Nov. 8):The message is that early detection helps prevent life-altering complications. The ADA will be encouraging people to take its risk test.
- Management(week of Nov. 15):Diet, exercise, education, and technology are making life with diabetes more manageable. This week the org will encourage people to join the ADA fitness challenge, find a healthy recipe, and learn more about diabetes technology available.
- Step Up and Thrive(week of Nov. 22): Small wins become big victories, and suddenly the good days outnumber the bad. This week is all about celebrating wins and encouraging people to help advocate for change.
This national nonprofit has been focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and advocacy since 1970, and is always especially visible during the month of November. Their big theme this year is celebrating “Movers, Shakers, and T1D Changemakers” through a video, virtual events and a social media campaign.
Their other activities range from in-person and virtual TypeOne Nation conferences to fundraising walks and galas spread throughout the United States. You can search for chapters and events near you on their calendar site.
Some November 2021 events specifically worth mentioning:
- On Nov. 12, the National Black Leadership Commission on Health will host a virtual panel where T1D and the work of JDRF will be discussed.
- The start of the National Football League initiative known as “My Cause, My Cleats” that kicks off on Nov. 30 will feature multiple NFL players and other football luminaries dedicated to diabetes causes. They’ll donate to their charities of choice, displayed on their football cleats.
- A hip hop music virtual panel where T1D will be represented; the live date is still TBD, but the recording will also be viewable online afterwards.
This California-based nonprofit founded in 2015 shared these key initiatives being implemented in November:
- Throughout the month, BT1 and its Beyond Type 2 program will use the org’s social media #TheDropSpotted campaign — aimed at making an invisible disease visible — to help foster support and collaboration among all people living with diabetes. Those who live with this condition or are touched by it in some way are encouraged to post photos wearing an original Beyond Type 1 Drop Hat or their new 2 Powerful Hat and tag the #TheDropSpotted in posts. It’s about sharing diabetes experiences regardless of type, the group says. “Together, we will fight stigma, combat misunderstanding, and ultimately change how the world views diabetes.”
- On Nov. 7, the Beyond Type Run Team, sponsored by Dexcom and Tandem Diabetes Care, will race through the five boroughs of New York City during the 2021 New York City Marathon. The team is made up of 50 runners living with T1D from 23 states and 5 countries. While raising awareness and fundraising, they are showcasing how they “live beyond their diagnoses” and support crucial programs for others affected by this condition.
- On Nov. 9 and 10, Beyond Type 1 en Español is hosting panel discussions in Spanish. Viewers can watch both on Facebook: the “Working as a Team for Diabetes Management” session on Nov. 9, and the “Emotional Wellbeing and Relationships“ session on Nov. 10.
- On Nov. 18, Beyond Type 1 is hosting its 11th “community table,” a live panel discussion around #LanguageMatters and the role of words and language in diabetes care, mental health and destigmatization. Anyone interested can register ahead of time or catch it streamed live on Beyond Type 1’s Facebook page that day.
This organization formerly known as the American Association of Diabetes Educators (or AADE) is marking its own National Diabetes Education Week from Nov. 7 to 13, 2021. That involves releasing a new video on the org’s recommended diabetes self-care behaviors, which ADCES allows public sharing of the org’s full collection of resources that it’s developed and released over time.
For World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, ADCES is planning a podcast episode aimed at the 100 years of insulin theme. It will delve into reasons why some people with diabetes who don’t live with T1D are hesitant to go on insulin, and how diabetes care and education specialists can help people navigate that issue.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) based in Belgium is mostly focused on World Diabetes Day. Their theme for 2021 through 2023 is “Access to Diabetes Care.” They’re providing resources and informational materials to use in advocacy and contacting world leaders, and this initiative has many sponsors within the pharmaceutical industry including the insulin makers themselves.
Generally, IDF offers these ways for you to get involved:
- Pledge your support for greater access to diabetes care by supporting the IDF’s online petition.
- Engage a local or national policymaker to ensure that all people with diabetes have access to the care they need.
- Organize a ‘Learn about diabetes’ event in schools.
- Organize or participate in a local diabetes awareness walk.
- Light up a local landmark, your home, or workplace, in blue.
- Arrange an activity with your work colleagues.
- Help people learn their potential risk of type 2 diabetes with their online test.
You can submit your own WDD-themed activities online, adding to the IDF’s current list of 136 events in 43 countries posted as of Nov. 2, 2021.
IDF also has an ongoing “Insulin at 100” campaign where members of the D-Community can share their own stories on life with diabetes and how insulin — or the struggle to afford it — has impacted their lives.
Based in the United Kingdom, this global advocacy organization started the powerful grassroots #insulin4all movement back in 2014 and has been extremely vocal on the insulin pricing crisis, both in the United States and globally.
For November 2021, T1International has a few key campaign focuses:
- 100 Years: From Gift to Greed, a campaign that delves into the issue of for-profit price-gouging on insulin.
- Vials of Life campaign, which was first launched in December 2020. It’s inspired by T1International Chapter Lead Madi Johnson, who took a creative approach to spreading hope and raising awareness about the insulin price crisis in America with her up-cycled empty vials of insulin. Those participating Nov. 14 to 22 can use their vial of life template to share on social media what gives them life (person, place, thing, song, memory, etc.), using the hashtags #insulin4all and #vialsoflife.
- Their Families United for Affordable Insulin group is also planning an awareness push centered on the losses people have experienced due to high insulin prices and why action to lower drug prices is essential.
The organization’s founder Elizabeth Pfiester explains that “While T1International marks important dates like the 100-Year anniversary of insulin’s isolation (back in July) and World Diabetes Day (November 14th), and acknowledges the efforts, successes, and milestones of our community and those who have come before, we feel strongly that celebrating is inappropriate when 1 out of every 2 people in need of insulin worldwide cannot access or afford it. Instead, we are highlighting our community of advocates and their dedication and determination to advocate for change. We must continue to advocate until 100 percent of people worldwide have 100 percent access to insulin.”
Located in London, Ontario, Canada, this home-turned-museum is considered the “birthplace of insulin” because it’s where Banting first dreamed up the idea of isolating insulin to treat diabetes back in October 1920. That led to the next year’s historic discovery, one of the modern miracles of medicine, and then young Leo Thompson who lived with diabetes received the first-ever insulin dose in January 1922. The rest is history. Eventually, that home located in between Windsor and Niagara Falls was converted into a museum that was even graced by a visit by England’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1989.
For this year’s awareness month and World Diabetes Day, the Banting House has three main efforts planned:
- A hybrid in-person and virtual event broadcast on Facebook, including video messages from individuals across Canada, and the annual unveiling of commemorative bricks. Diabetes Canada created a special “Call to Action” brick, which will be engraved and placed outside the Banting House for visitors to see, along with the many other dozens already in place.
- A new in-person exhibition called “I’m A Fat Boy Now” will be opened as a follow-up to the virtual exhibit of the same name. It focuses on Teddy Ryder, one of the first children who received insulin from Banting and Best back in 1922. As was common at the time, children with diabetes were dangerously emaciated, but after the groundbreaking insulin treatment they were delighted to regain weight and with it their lives. Therefore, the exhibit title is actually a happy reference to being “fat.”
- A new virtual exhibit, Diabetes Ink, will feature both T1D and T2D tattoos from across North America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Brazil. Banting House curator Grant Maltman says this online exhibit is “a bit of a teaser” for a planned in-person show in summer 2022. He hopes to also use that for hosting an “Artist in Residence” program where visitors can get a basic tattoo, such as an “I>ɅV” tattoo that means “I am greater than High or Low blood sugars.”
Michael Park, a New York-based opera composer who lives with T1D, composed “Diagnosis: Diabetes,” what he believes to be the world’s first and only interactive opera about T1D. Parks was diagnosed in 1991 and is now marking his 30th anniversary.
His creation is an hour-long chamber opera that tells the story of Charlie, from his diagnosis as a young boy growing up navigating life with T1D. “The opera is fun, engaging, and lighthearted, without shying away from the realities of living with a chronic condition,” Park said. “By encouraging the audience to answer multiple choice musical questions about diabetes, the work is educational, but also includes dynamic narrative scenes that allow the audience to experience what it’s like to actually have diabetes.”
Park is working with several diabetes groups to share this opera widely across the world: ADA, JDRF, We Are Diabetes, British Columbia Diabetes, and Vancouver’s Erato Ensemble that first premiered his work several years earlier. The opera will be streaming online for free throughout the month, on Nov. 6, 7, 13, 20, 21, 27, and 28. It will also stream on World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14 through the ADA’s World Diabetes Day events.
More information is available online including where to view the opera.
The third annual Together T1D is a virtual event happening on Nov. 10 that’s aimed at celebrating the lives of those with diabetes, their loved ones and caregivers, and medical professionals across the world.
This online event featuring the Omnipod tubeless insulin pump is put on by Lauren Bongiorno, a New York social media savvy health coach who’s lived with T1D since she was 7 years old.
The 2020 virtual event brought in 2,500 viewers from 30 different countries and they expect an estimated 5,000 viewers this year. Bongiorno says one of the key takeaways from this event is that “T1D’s and their caregivers feel such a sense of community, camaraderie, empowerment, and support leaving this event, and are so appreciative of seeing people they admire as part of it.”
The Together T1D event runs 7 to 9 p.m. EST on Nov. 10, and the featured speakers include:
- Charlotte Drury, U.S. Olympic Athlete
- Pietro Marsala, the first T1D pilot to receive medical certification in 2020 to fly for a commercial airline in the United States
- Kyle Banks, Broadway performer, and diabetes philanthropist
- Dr. Mike Natter, a New York City endocrinologist active on social media who lives with T1D
- Shacey Petrovic, President and CEO of Insulet Corp., that makes the Omnipod tubeless insulin pump
For more information and to RSVP, visit Bongiorno’s website here.
Both Grammy winners live with diabetes: Jonas with T1D and LaBelle with type 2 diabetes.
Jonas will use his Instagram channel to feature stories of people around the world living with diabetes every single day throughout November, and he’ll also “speak candidly about his own diabetes journey on the anniversary of his diagnosis (Nov. 16).”
On Nov. 4, LaBelle will speak to Congress during a virtual event organized by the Diabetes Leadership Council, where she will share her experience with diabetes and advocate for better access to standards of care for people with type 2 diabetes, especially in Communities of Color, and in particular Black communities, where there’s an increased prevalence of diabetes. This event is free to attend, and registration is available here.
In a statement, Dexcom noted: “While progress has been made to improve access to diabetes care, some people with diabetes still can’t easily access technology, like CGM, that can help them better control their diabetes and spend more time in range. Better access often starts with increased visibility and an understanding from decision-makers about what it’s like to live with diabetes and why technology can make such a huge difference in peoples’ lives.”
The New York-based precision health company One Drop has a lineup of activities planned for November, including a “Power of Connection” campaign on social media and online that it says will focus on the importance of human connection and support in diabetes management and overall health. A virtual panel is being moderated by the diaTribe Foundation.
They’ll also be airing a “Portraits of Possible (PoP)” mini-documentary premiere featuring 60-year-old blind powerlifter Charles King, “who beats the odds and breaks a world record. He owes much of his success in his diabetes management and powerlifting career to the ongoing support he receives from his best friend.” There will be a charitable component to the premiere. See the PoP landing page for more information.