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 talking point for the month.
We believe the need for diabetes awareness month is more important than ever because of high-stakes issues like Affordability and Access, and public awareness on those topics are at an all-time high.
Of course, with the global health emergency and COVID-19 crisis, there’s a legitimate question of how relevant this awareness push really is for 2020?
Many different diabetes organizations have a plethora of activities and initiatives, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and JDRF that both tend to highlight specific aspects or individual themes each year, in the context of living with diabetes.
No matter what activities and events are on tap, it’s great to know that the historic Banting House in London, Ontario is a place to mark Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day — specifically, for the medical milestone that changed the world for anyone with diabetes way back in 1921.
Our own Mike Hoskins visited the house once lived in by insulin co-discoverer Dr. Frederick Banting, and he shared his experience seeing that historic landmark firsthand.
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 along with Dr. Charles Best. While it did officially exist through the 90s and early 2000s, WDD day was largely off the radar until 2006, when the IDF successfully advocated for the United Nations to issue a resolution on it and it was officially recognized for the first time the next year.
As part of that campaign, an Oregon D-Mom named Kari Rosenfeld who was working with IDF to come up with a concept for an international symbol for diabetes. She and her daughter Clare (diagnosed with T1D more than two decades ago at age 7) were the main force behind the UN Resolution, originally pitching the idea to IDF to bring more worldwide attention to this illness.
They took the idea of a UN Resolution to Professor Martin Silink, who led the IDF at the time in 2003 and was attending the organization’s annual meeting in Paris, France. Without his leadership, Kari says none of the rest would have been possible. She took on the role of project manager handling all aspects of achieving the new resolution, along with the Unite for Diabetes public awareness campaign built around it aimed at “going beyond so many mixed messages about diabetes and create a unified campaign that could embrace them all.”
They settled on 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. In November 2013, we interviewed D-Mom Kari about her views on how the month and bue-hue has gotten a bit stale over the years. She certainly had some thoughts to share on the Past, Present and Future of D-Month and World Diabetes Day!
Of course, there’s definitely been more than just the WDD and Blue Circle advocacy during November, worldwide.
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 early 1980s. (See this Reagan declaration in 1981!) 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.
Don’t miss our coverage of what’s happened over the years for Diabetes Awareness Month, within the U.S. and across the globe. You’ll read about efforts from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), JDRF, Beyond Type 1, (now defunct) Diabetes Hands Foundation, and other groups working to raise public awareness and make a difference for the Diabetes Community.
Here’s a glimpse at our past coverage over the years:
For 2019: Once again, we saw some new awareness initiatives across the U.S. and the world focusing on different aspects of diabetes and life with this condition.
For 2018: we saw a new two-year campaign launched by the International Diabetes Federation and several other online social media campaigns by other orgs out there. It was also fun to see the Banting House in Canada take part, celebrating the man they’re based on who co-discovered insulin!
Diabetes Awareness 2015: the ADA and IDF focused on the theme of educating people about healthy eating. Themes have varied over the years and hit on multiple aspects of diabetes and general healthiness, as well as D-complications and exercise awareness initiatives.
Another Big Diabetes Month + World Diabetes Day 2014: During that year’s 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.
Diabetes Nation? New Campaign Aims to Make Diabetes its Own Country(!): 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 was also filming a documentary of this whole process to help raise awareness about type 2 globally.
Diabetes Awareness Month 2013: 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.
Diabetes Awareness Month 2012: 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.
Avoiding Advocacy Burnout in National Diabetes Month: 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.
Diabetes Awareness Month 2011: 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.
Diabetes Awareness Month: Roundtable (2008): 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.”
There is always a plethora of activities and campaigns centered on D-Month and WDD, so it’s nearly impossible to keep an exhaustive list of all that’s happening on the world stage. We look to the #WorldDiabetesDay and #NDAM hashtags on social media as a resource in keeping tabs on different items, as well as what Pharma and the D-Industry along with all the many diabetes orgs and individual efforts. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for anything you know of related to this month’s happenings!