Diabetes Advocacy: Is The Issue Just TOO Big??
I’m always fascinated by the notion of an issue needing to be addressed. Someone says, ‘This just will not do…..’ and they begin the process of change. That person, at that instant, becomes an advocate. The only reason I began to write was to try to foster change and to help others from anything I may have learned from being at this ‘diabetes thing’ for 22+ years (since my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Sept. 26th, 1992—seems EVERY parents knows the dates of diagnosis).
In another part of the country, there is a bill being proposed in the hallowed halls of a state government that will foster change in the state where it is being discussed. That bill’s process began when someone saw something that needed addressing, they advocated for change. And if a bill is being voted upon, it was a long road from the first concept to where it is now on the floor of a legislating body.
Advocacy has come to mean many things. I used to believe that advocacy was this huge trip to either Washington D.C. or my State Capitol in Albany, New York, on some great monumental mission to change the laws of our land to better the lives of people living with diabetes. It seemed like some giant windmill being battled by Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. What was the point?
Simply put, advocate is a person who argues for or supports a cause or policy. Nowhere does it say that it has to be a new law written, or that you have to be an elected official fighting some HUGE battle ‘in chambers’. It can be that, but it can also be just an issue that better cares for children with diabetes during a school trip; or perhaps, a school lockdown. Something needed that does not exist today, or needs to be changed to fit today’s world.
Don’t be intimidated by the word advocacy. Any issue began because there was an idea. Sometimes you settle the situation and sometimes the idea grows. It’s hard to believe that there was never an idea that research could happen in one building all to cure diabetes. But when a group of parents got together to figure out why, and started out with raising just $5000 dollars in their first year to fund a research project, that simple idea they advocated for over thirty years ago turned into an 87,000 square foot building on the campus of the University of Miami—and the Diabetes Research Institute still stands today.
Or how about a mom from Philadelphia and a mom from New York City who started speaking on the phone about advocating and raising money to fund research? That little idea grew also and became what is now known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. You see, no one truly starts something thinking their efforts will take on global impact. They take on one idea. They plant the seed, they water it, and they spread the word. And guess what? Sometimes it grows; and grows large.
I will share this with you, there is one commonality in any advocacy effort of any idea no matter how big it became or how small it ended up; and that commonality is that the person did not wait for someone else to start the ball rolling. They saw the need and THEY began the effort. What are you waiting for? Here is an easy way to start. Go to www.GetDiabetesRight.org and download a few flyers and hang them in your community for diabetes awareness. A mom from Texas and I created this site just to spread awareness about diabetes education on T1 diabetes. Start…….…you may be surprised where it goes. I am a DiabetesDad.