With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month in the U.S., you can imagine there’s a slew of awareness campaigns and fundraising events that go on throughout the month.
This effort has taken on more international importance in recent years, with the growth of global observances of World Diabetes Day that takes place annually on November 14, the date marking the birthday of insulin co-discoverer Dr. Frederick Banting.
Here at DiabetesMine, we’ve covered these November diabetes activities at length over the years. Please browse through this overview of posts we’ve written to get a sense of what happens when diabetes awareness becomes a national and international priority.
Diabetes Awareness Month 2017
This year, we believe the need for diabetes awareness month is more important than ever. Many different diabetes organizations have a plethora of activities and initiatives, including the American Diabetes Association and JDRF that are both emphasizing the "invisible illness" aspect of living with diabetes. Our roundup explores all of the happenings within the USA and across the world.
Diabetes Months of the Past
Don’t miss our coverage of what happened for Diabetes Awareness Month last year, in both the U.S. and across the globe. You’ll read about efforts from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), JDRF, Diabetes Hands Foundation, and other groups working to raise public awareness and make a difference for the Diabetes Community. You can also reflect back on the prior year, with our coverage of Diabetes Awareness Month 2015, when both the ADA and IDF focused on the theme of educating people about healthy eating.
World Diabetes Day and the Blue Circle
World Diabetes Day (WDD) was established by the International Diabetes Federation in 1991 to call attention to this worldwide epidemic. The date of Nov. 14 was chosen to honor Dr. Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin back in 1921, who would be 124 years old now were he still alive to celebrate his birthday. WDD day was largely off the radar until 2006, when the IDF successfully advocated for the United Nations to issue a resolution on it.
As part of that campaign, a D-Mom named Kari Rosenfeld who was working with IDF came up with a concept for an international symbol for diabetes -- the Blue Circle -- meant to become as recognizable as the ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer, red ribbon for AIDS, or yellow ribbon for bring-home-the-troops. The blue hue is meant to evoke the color of the sky, and the circle embodies unity. In fact, the Blue Circle is officially known as the "Unite for Diabetes" symbol.
Please see our past coverage of WDD, the Blue Circle and how this diabetes awareness campaign has evolved through the years.
The full story behind the Blue Circle, what the color and design means, and how we can use this in our own diabetes advocacy efforts.
Believe it or not, the largest diabetes advocacy groups in America have not embraced or promoted the Blue Circle (in favor of their own logos). In 2011, we ran an "Adopt the Blue Circle" campaign lobbying the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and JDRF to embrace the Blue Circle as the universally recognized symbol that says it all.
We interview the Blue Circle co-creator, a D-Mom herself, who offers insight on the perceived impact of the symbol and World Diabetes Day advocacy efforts. She notes that the campaign had begun to stagnate and was in need of a new surge of energy. The IDF also offers insight on the impact of World Diabetes Day over the years.
It's actually been an uphill battle to get proper recognition for WDD and the Blue Circle symbol here in the United States, starting with even recognizing Blue as "our color"... i.e. diabetes' own version of the pink ribbon for cancer awareness. Here at the 'Mine we’ve been lobbying hard for this recognition for at least five years. This post also takes a look at WDD activities our team was personally involved in from 2006-2011.
There are loads of opportunities to get involved in each year's awareness campaigns around the country and around the world. Read about the annual Big Blue Test education and fundraising campaign, and the international WDD Postcard Exchange.
Our suggestions on “what you can do to help the cause” on WDD are just as valid today as they were a few years’ back.
In 2010, the International Diabetes Federation launched a series of short and evocative YouTube videos, all supporting the slogan "Understand Diabetes, Get Involved." We were impressed, and discuss how necessary it is to replace that earlier grassroots symbol for diabetes -- a gray ribbon with red blood drop on it (yuck!)
All About Diabetes Awareness Month
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), National Diabetes Month was actually established 40 years ago in 1975, though Congress and the U.S. presidents didn't start passing proclamations recognizing November as "diabetes month" until the mid 1980s. The ADA trademarked "American Diabetes Month" in 1997.
This month is of course a time when diabetes organizations of all sizes launch awareness efforts, initiatives and campaigns, and our Diabetes Community comes together to share stories about this condition with the general public.
We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the November D-awareness campaigns across these United States. Here’s a look at our past coverage:
In 2014 awareness efforts, the IDF introduced a fun new Blue Circle selfie campaign centered on their new WDD Selfie App. Also, the IDF’s “Pin a Personality” initiative really took 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, including one to Bradley Whitford, probably most well known for his TV role as White House exec Josh Lyman on the West Wing.
A new campaign called ‘State of Diabetes’ was launched by a New York health insurance marketing agency, Area 23. The idea is that with 343 million people worldwide with type 2 diabetes, it’s time to move beyond the UN Resolution and actually ask the UN to designate “Diabetes’ as an official country. Whoa! Area 23 is also filming a documentary of this whole process to help raise awareness about type 2 globally.
We saw a new smartphone app introduced for the Big Blue Test this year, and it also marked the debut of the JDRF’s new marketing campaign, “Turning Type One Into Type None.” We also saw the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange grow in popularity.
Many in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) were “Thinking Blue, Going Blue” in November 2012, and many diabetes bloggers also recognized the 8th annual Diabetes Blog Day, in which bloggers rally around a cause. The theme in 2012 was media awareness -- encouraging bloggers to write open letters to national media outlets such as the NY Times, CNN, or a local/national newspaper or TV station about why it's so important for them to let the world know that diabetes is about more than just being overweight or eating too much sugar.
With so many great diabetes causes and efforts asking for involvement during the month of November, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. We take a look at ways to stay motivated, and not get lost in them all.
The JDRF kicked off National Diabetes Awareness Month on Nov. 1 with the first-ever "type 1 diabetes awareness day" program, appropriately called T1 Day. The org also had the opportunity to appear on the Today Show in New York at the start of November, while in San Francisco there were diabetes-inspired flash mobs happening.
Help a Child in Rwanda (for Diabetes Awareness Month 2010)
The inspiring all-diabetic pro cycling Team Type 1 conducted a ‘Thinking Globally’ on diabetes campaign aimed at helping PWDs (people with diabetes) in developing countries get access to life-saving insulin and diabetes supplies. They focused specifically on Rwanda, where life expectancy is less than 5 years with diabetes. For WDD in San Francisco, we also saw the kick-off of the fun new fitness program, Dance Out Diabetes.
For the first time ever, JDRF gathered a group of vocal diabetes bloggers to discuss November outreach activities and more. As one notes: "Diabetes awareness is important because it translates into a greater understanding of (and by extension, compassion for) those living with the disease; an increased willingness by schools, companies, and other organizations to make accommodations when and where needed; and a larger number of people providing more vigorous support toward finding a cure.”