November is upon us -- the time of year when "all eyes are on diabetes" for National Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14. That day was chosen in honor of Dr. Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin back in 1921, who would be 125 years old were he still alive to celebrate this birthday!
This National Diabetes Month campaign has been going on for much longer than many realize; it 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 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. The first-ever WDD was recognized in 2007.
All of these November observances exploded about a decade ago with the emergence of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), where people can easily create and promote new campaigns and initiatives. Some of these repeat annually, while others are specific to a particular year.
Leading up to November, President Barack Obama issued the now-annual presidential proclamation marking November as National Diabetes Awareness Month. On Oct. 28, the White House posted this symbolic gesture of official federal government recognition of our condition, which they've been doing since the mid-1980s.
Here's a quick look at what’s on offer in November 2016 from some prominent advocacy organizations. Of course, if you know of any other activities, please let us know in comments below!
ADA's Story Site
As always, the ADA is active for this NDAM 2016.
Mainly, the org is launching a brand new This Is Diabetes campaign, which is a story-telling effort based on the idea that no one can portray the impact of diabetes better than those who live with it each day. Can't argue with that! National sponsors include Medtronic Diabetes and Colgate Total.
You can download a #ThisIsDiabetes sign on the campaign website, and then just fill in the blank and take a picture or video and post on your own social platform using the #ThisIsDiabetes hashtag. Stories can also be submitted directly on the campaign website here.
This campaign launches today (Nov. 1) with a series of video vignettes showcasing the personal stories of some volunteers. The ADA plans to showcase this gallery online, collectively sharing these stories to highlight how people all around us are succeeding and coping, often silently, with diabetes -- and hopefully to inspire more people to speak up.
JDRF's Footprint of T1 Diabetes
Continuing its "T1D Looks Like Me" campaign that debuted in 2015, the JDRF will feature that photo meme starting today and continue throughout the rest of the month. In November 2015 alone, the group reports that 250,000 people visited JDRF’s NDAM page overall and more than 80,000 people downloaded the T1D Looks Like Me photo template.
New for 2016, the JDRF has developed what it calls a "diabetes footprint" generator. The idea is to answer the question: “How much space does T1D take up in your life?” This allows people impacted by T1D (whether the PWD specifically or a parent, spouse or caregiver) to enter basic information about how they manage the disease -- from date of diagnosis, to CGM and test strips used, and pump injections performed over time. Once the information's plugged in, the tool creates a personalized infographic that can be shared on social media channels.
After chatting with the JDRF on this recently, I got access to a beta test version and entered my info, including my March 10, 1984 diagnosis date, my periodic insulin pumping starting in 2001, and CGM use. Based on my 15 years of "periodic" pumping, the JDRF generator calculates my overall number of injections throughout life, event taking into account that my estimated number of shots changed in the 1990s due to insulin formula changes.
JDRF the program calculates hours of sleep lost based generally on a handful of clinical studies as well as anecdotal personal stories from PWDs with T1D about lost sleep. The estimates aimed at all ages and demographics and aren't scientific, but rather just a "quick and easy way to get a rough estimate and help raise awareness." Still eye-opening! (Pun!!)
IDF Targets Eye Health
This year, the IDF (International Diabetes Federation)'s theme for World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14 (and arguably, the entire month) is about eye health with diabetes. Specifically, the campaign is dubbed "Eyes on Diabetes." Activities and materials focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications. And frankly anyone with T1D can just as easily find significance in this campaign, since many of us live with these same eye-related complication fears.
As always, the IDF continues its ongoing activities and initiatives throughout November related to lighting up national landmarks around the world in blue for the Blue Monument Challenge. As of Oct. 31, the IDF web-map showed 274 WDD-related events in 98 different countries -- wow!
Importantly, the IDF has also expanded more into the United States recently by launching a non-profit Life for a Child USA arm back in September. The group is now running its very first social media campaign in the States to help raise awareness for kids in disadvantaged countries who have type 1, but little access to insulin, supplies and education.
The campaign is called Be A Kid For A Kid, and the org is challenging people in this country to take a photo or video of yourself acting like a kid (with any memory, activity or game that brings you back to childhood), post it on social media sites using the #BeAKidForAKid hashtag, and then challenge three others to do the same to bring awareness to Life for a Child USA.
Beyond Type 1 Tackles Warning Signs and Art
Beyond Type 1 is one of the newer community advocacy orgs on the scene. For November, it's rolled out a DKA Awareness campaign in a collaboration with state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, giving out T1D warning signs and DKA materials in pediatricians' offices and schools. The group also planned to ring the NASDAQ closing bell on Nov. 1 with Omnipod-maker Insulet, in celebration of D-month's beginning.
The organization is also doing a celebratory art competition, encouraging the D-community to express their T1D through artistic expressions via a gallery it's hosting online.
(btw: Congrats to Beyond Type 1 for the recent 4th place finish in the #RevlonChallenge, bringing in $500,000 to help raise awareness about diabetes!)
DCAF's Day-Long Twitter Chat
One again, the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation (DCAF), a wonderful D-Community peer support group, will be hosting a 19-hour Twitter chat on World Diabetes Day. There will be a different DOC host every hour, along with a specific topic to discuss relating to diabetes. You can follow all the conversation online using hashtags #WDDchat16 and #DSMA.
Beyond the Twitter chat, DCAF reminds us not to forget to WEAR BLUE every chance you get to help raise awareness around your local communities. In case you missed it, the Blue Circle is the universal symbol for diabetes, and blue is the official advocacy color!
Diabetes Hands Foundation's Big Blue Test
Speaking of blue, the DHF's Big Blue Test program is now an annual tradition, pretty much guaranteed to make an impact due to the sponorship money behind it.
Remember the basics: check your BG, get some exercise for 14-20 minutes, and then check your BG again and share the results on the BBT website. The idea is to see how physical activity brings your BG levels down.
Data from this initiative over the years shows the average person's BG drops by 20%. This year's campaign began Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 14, and every entry made during that time results in a $1 donation to one of three diabetes nonprofits receiving grants this year -- DiabetesSisters, We Are Diabetes, and the Riverside Community Health Foundation.
Here's what each of the three groups plans to do with the BBT money they receive:
- DiabetesSisters: will grow their newly launched Minority Initiative, which is focused on bringing resources and education to African-American and Hispanic women with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
- We Are Diabetes: will further build out and promote their new Recovery Toolkit that will be available digitally for health care providers. They plan to distribute physical copies to clinics across the country.
- Riverside Community Diabetes Collaborative: this local Southern California group plans to purchase equipment for their annual “Together We Can!” event, a free seminar that includes health screenings and education on healthy living with diabetes, and addresses the emotional aspect of living with diabetes.
It's very easy to participate in the Big Blue Test, whether you log a result online or use the iPhone or Android smartphone app. The goal: 45,000 entries for a donation of up to $5,000 each! You can also help bring in more participants through school and offfice campaigns using the DHF resources online.
Project Blue November Lobbies States
This grassroots nonprofit launched by a group of D-Moms around the country has a lot on tap for Awareness Month.
It's sharing a “Just One T1D Fact” every day during November, as well as supporting various efforts such as blue hair fun, and the IDF intiatives that include lighting up various landmarks and monuments in blue.
As it has done in the past, PBN spent the past few months getting every single state in the U.S. (!) to issue a diabetes proclamation for the month of November. They succeeded, and as a result our country is pretty much colored Blue for the month (politics aside, keep in mind) in recognizing diabetes at the state level.
They're also launching an Instagram challenge, in which everyone is encouraged to share a photo on that social media platform, and a “Hands of Hope” campaign where everyone’s encouraged to share a picture or image of a diabetes hope written in the palm of their hand (sound familiar?).
In the spirit of D-Community peer-support, PBM on Nov. 19 will also host the #RockItLikeRichard initiative to honor Richard Vaughn, who’s been living with type 1 for seven decades (see our feature profile on him here).
T1International Aims for Universal Access
It's exciting to see this UK-based organization mobilizing advocates for November to actually make a difference on important global issues related to medication access. The group is pushing for signatures on its new Type 1 Diabetes Access Charter, with the hope of getting as many as possible by World Diabetes Day. The Charter states that every PWD "deserves the right to insulin and to manage blood sugar, diabetes education, health care and a life free from discrimination." The idea is to build a unified global movement, give activists an advocacy tool they can tailor to local environments, and get the Charter in front of governmental leaders.
As of Oct. 31, the Access Charter has been signed by more than 100 individuals from around the world and more than a dozen organizations -- including us here at the 'Mine.
In these times of high insulin prices and concerns by so many on #DiabetesAccessMatters, this is certainly a worthwhile effort that can hopefully do some good in the world!
Diabetes Industry Weighs In
Many of the diabetes companies also have an array of different initiatives and programs in place throughout the month of November, including:
Dexcom: The CGM company in California says it has several activities planned -- but most symbolically, the company will be ringing the NASDAQ bell to open the stock market on World Diabetes Day in New York City. While this may sound like commercial trivia, it's actually a very effective way to draw attention to diabetes as both a market and a cause. The company also plans to have its Dexcom Warrior advocates raising awareness and telling their stories throughout the month.
Eli Lilly: The big insulin company says it will be sharing a presentation on Facebook Live and Twitter with employees about Lilly's involvement in the development of insulin. Also, on Saturday, Nov. 12 (two days before WDD), at the XFinity Race at Phoenix International Speedway, type 1 race car driver Ryan Reed will race with a special paint scheme as the culmination of their #IDriveMyHealth campaign. This will feature a word cloud showing ways fans said they "drive their health" throughout the year.
Insulet: They also are planning a series of announcements and activities, including ringinging the closing NASDAQ bell on Nov. 1 to mark the month's awareness. The bell-ceremony will be aired live at https://new.livestream.com/nasdaq/live or http://www.nasdaq.com/about/marketsitetowervideo.asx, and it will be archived for a year on the NASDAQ site.
Sanofi: This other big insulin company says it has multiple internal activities planned to raise awareness and educate employees, including a move to encourage Sanofi staff who may be at risk for developing diabetes to schedule a free A1C test through the company's health center.
These are just some of the larger campaigns and initiatives planned for November 2016.
Know of others not included here? Please let us know, by leaving a comment below!
You can also see more background and detail on Diabetes Awareness Month, World Diabetes Day and the Blue Circle symbol by checking out our diabetes awareness month overview page.