It's November -- time to wish you all a Happy Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM) once again! There's always a ton happening for this big D-awareness month, and 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.
As a refresher, this NDAM was established over 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 epidemic, and it got a big boost when the United Nations issued a resolution on it in 2006, ushering in the first UN-recognized WDD the following year.
For more background and history of NDAM and WDD, see this overview. where you can get a sense of what this month is all about and why the Bue Circle is often viewed 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 to get people activated both locally and nationally. There are usually social media campaigns galore, such as Project Blue November sharing a meme each day of the month to raise awareness and the T1D Exchange doing a "30 Facts, 30 Days" campaign with an Instagram graphic each day, and efforts to #MakeDiabetesVisible.
Today, we've compiled a rundown of what we know is happening for 2018. This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but we asked each of the big diabetes orgs and some of the smaller ones about their plans and here's what we have learned:
International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
The theme for World Diabetes Day in 2018 and 2019 is "Family and Diabetes." It's a broad topic, but 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:
- 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.
- Less 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 200 actual events, big and small, are set for World Diabetes Day in 50+ countries worldwide -- a majority are overseas outside of America, in Europe and Asia. They range from small rallies to hospital awareness events, to expos/fairs and blue lightings of national monuments.
Banting House - the Birthplace of Insulin
Remember hearing of the Banting House in London, Ontario, Canada, where Dr. Banting once lived, and actually conceived the idea of insulin on that fateful Halloween night in 1920? I had the pleasure of visiting that historic site in Spring 2017, and am planning to visit again in the near future on my to the Friends For Life conference in Niagara Falls, ON for the Nov. 2 weekend.
In honor of the 11th anniversary of the official UN-recognized World Diabetes Day and Sir Frederick Banting's would-be 127th birthday on Nov. 14, the Banting House has a host of festivities planned during the evening hours on WDD:
- lighting of Sir Frederick's Statue as part of the IDF's global Blue Monument Challenge;
- reading of international "Dear Dr. Banting" letters that have been left at the museum;
- unveiling of the newly installed commemorative bricks in the Global Garden;
- a special ceremony to honor the centennial of the end of the First World War and Banting's military involvement;
- the unveiling of the Diabetes Canada national donor recognition program
It's pretty awesome that admission is free for this event, happening 6-8pm ET there, and that Banting House will also be collecting gently used clothing for their donation program supporting Diabetes Canada.
Once again, this T1D-focused organization is geared up for November:
- On Nov. 1, the organization will be appearing at the TODAY Show Plaza in New York City to talk about type 1 diabetes and raise awareness for the million who tune in to the show each day. (They won't be the only D-org there, though... we've heard the American Diabetes Association will also be present!)
- JDRF has launched an "I'm the Type" campaign, encouraging PWDs to fill in the blank: "I'm the ____ type." The idea is that instead of being defined by any particular type of diabetes, we should be able to define ourselves, because of course we are so much more than just our disease. Look for the #ImTheType hashtag on social media.
- The org is also launching a very cool interactive historic look at type 1 diabetes, known as "T1D Through the Years." You can key in your birth date to see what was happening in the T1D world on that date and year, and scroll through before and after that to see all that's happened. (Just beware that to use this, you must enter your name and email, which will most likely will lead to donation/marketing emails from JDRF).
- For World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, the JDRF's NYC Chapter will be holding its annual Promise Gala event.
There's more to come from JDRF, both nationally and locally at various chapters. Also, In Case You Missed it, just a few days ago news went public that the organization will soon be seeking a new CEO after D-Dad Derek Rapp announced he'll be stepping down in 2019.
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
We reached out to ADA specifically to ask, but didn't get a response from the press office by up the start of November (?). However, by going online to the org's Awareness Month page, you can see the theme for this particular year is "Everyday Reality." Here's the description:
"For those who've been diagnosed, diabetes impacts nearly every decision they make daily -- from what they'll eat, wear, do and how they'll take care of themselves. Yet the 24/7 burden of diabetes management is often misunderstood. This campaign is intended to demonstrate the everyday reality of diabetes from the point of view of people living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes. And while the everyday of diabetes can seem overwhelming, there are ways we can all help -- and to prevent it from becoming the everyday reality for millions more."
TODAY Show: As mentioned above, the ADA will be joining the JDRF at the TODAY Show Plaza to kick off diabetes awareness month. The org's asked all volunteers to arrive between 6:30-7a.m. ET and to wear the ADA's color red. The social media hashtag that seems to be out there most is #AwakenTheWorld, which we can only assume is a call action to raise awareness worldwide on diabetes.
Diabetes Food Hub: While it's not specifically tied to D-Awareness Month, note the late October launch of what the ADA is calling the Diabetes Food Hub, a digital cooking and recipe destination aimed at helping PWDs and families find a collection recipes OKd by ADA nutrition experts. It has hundreds of recipes, along with an interactive function where you can drag-and-drop items of interest into a meal planner.
While some in our D-Community have criticized ADA for focusing too much on carb-heavy food items, we try to keep an open mind that choice is a great thing. A quick site search for "low-carb" on this new Food Hub brings up 236 options, a small percentage of the overall offerings but pretty sizable nonetheless.
We'll keep tabs on the ADA to see what more materializes related to November, and if the org has anything on tap for World Diabetes Day specifically (not likely, as it hasn't historically embraced the international theme or Blue Circle, but we shall see).
American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE)
This D-educators org tells us they're centering efforts around National Diabetes Education Week, which falls during the first full week of November each year -- from Nov. 4-10, 2018. This year, the AADE will be focusing on the diabetes educator’s role in supporting the mental health of PWDs (people with diabetes). That includes new guidance for diabetes educators on a variety of areas within mental health, including diabetes distress, depression, and serious mental illness (SMI) that tackles suicide ideation, eating disorders, and so on.
The AADE will also offer compiled resources from scientific journals, a new visual on the connection and devastating stats around diabetes and mental health, as well as few other resources. The AADE will host a Facebook Live discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 1:45pm ET, in which T1D-peep Asha Brown will talk about diabetes-related eating disorders. Those resources can be found online at the org's landing page on mental health.
Beyond Type 1
The powerhouse California-based nonprofit Beyond Type 1 has several efforts planned for November and World Diabetes Day. Those we already know about, from online chatter and what BT1 tells us:
- CGM & Technology Survey: They'll be distributing a survey going at the start of the month asking the D-Community about CGM and technology access, to inform their advocacy efforts.
- Real Good Foods Partnership: On the fundraising front, for the month of November, Real Good Foods has agreed to donate 5% of their shopping profits to the diabetes organization (capped at $25,000).
- Banting's Birthday: On World Diabetes Day itself on Nov. 14, the org will be holding its second annual Banting’s Birthday celebration where individuals can sign a birthday card for Banting through the website, bantingsbirthday.org. There will also be multiple partners, prizes, and gifts for low-income families tied in. Notably for 2018, a big twist is that the Guinness Book of World Records has actually validated the org's attempt to break the world record for most signatures on a digital card (current record is ~66k signatures). It'll start up several days prior to Nov. 14 and continue afterward, and BT1 will be asking the Diabetes Community to join in on shattering that current world record -- thereby making a statement about the strength of the community and the importance of Banting's work in co-discovering insulin.
Diabetes Research Institute
Keeping pace with the WDD theme for this year and next of "The Family and Diabetes," the DRI has several activities planned in which the entire family can get involved. "It is so important for families to come together in support of each other and in the search for a cure," the organization tells us. Planned activities include:
- Sunday, Nov. 4: The indoor family entertainment chain Sky Zone Trampoline Park will have over 40 different franchises across the USA participating in the DRI's annual Bounce Away Diabetes events. Participating Sky locations will provide DRI's diabetes education materials to the public and will donate 50 cents for each minute participants bounce. As the motto goes: B.A.D. for Good!
- Nov. 14: The DRI’s event C3 – Collaborate, Celebrate, Cure -- will take place in New York City at the Tribeca Rooftop, bringing together business leaders, scientists, clinicians, families and others who want to see a cure for diabetes. The event will also present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the DRI’s Della Matheson, a fellow type 1 herself and CDE who serves as director of education and Trialnet coordinator. She's getting this honor for a lifetime of helping PWDs and families navigate the challenges of T1D.
We introduced this California-based group of D-Moms known as EASE T1D a few years back, and since then we're told the trio is now a duo as one of the moms, Robyn Lopez, moved on after March 2016. But the other two founders, Debbie George and Michelle Thornburg, remain active and tell us they have plans in place for this year's D-Month:
Roadside billboards aimed at raising awareness about type 1 diabetes! Five of them. One is Vinyl and will be up on Nov. 1, and the other 4 are digital and will be up on Nov. 7. While exact locations are TBD, all of the digital billboards will run for eight seconds each, and be located on busy freeways for drivers to see in Corona, CA (southeast of Los Angeles).
The billboards aim to raise awareness that T1D can strike at any age, a common misunderstanding as it was once dubbed "juvenile diabetes" and many still believe only kids are diagnosed, and that adults can only be diagnosed as type 2s. The artwork features three individuals, including Corona firefighter Eric Estes who was originally diagnosed with T2 diabetes but after a few days of continued high BGs and meal spikes it was clear that wasn't the case. As a paramedic, Eric knew he had T1D. He's now helping EASE T1D raise awareness in the local community, and they've partnered with the fire department to include banners being hung on each station as well as decals on all fire trucks. Also featured in the billboard is Allison Flatebo and her 2-year-old son Ian who both have T1D, and one Ease T1D co-founder's daughter Sierra who lives with type 1.
Beyond that, the group shares it will have an awareness ad in Inland Empire magazine, appearing in over 40,000 issues. This magazine is read by many business professionals and is set out in many doctor's offices. "We feel the T1D community tends to talk among themselves and there must be public awareness," Ease T1D tells us. "We're hoping this billboard and ad will raise awareness of T1D and bring an understanding of how chronic this disease is."
Great stuff, Ladies! Thank you!
We also reached out to others like the UK-based T1International global non-profit, and are told that aside from continuing the use of #insulin4all -- a social media hashtag that was first born on World Diabetes Day 2013 -- the organization had volunteers working to hold an event in Cairo, Egypt as well as turn a South African building blue along with advocacy and education worldwide. Others globally are doing talks, access to insulin events and pushing specific November-related advocacy plans.
If you know of other November or World Diabetes Day activities or events worth sharing, please ping us via email or on any of our social media channels at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks!