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On Purpose

On Purpose

A few weeks ago, I jetted down to sunny Orlando, Florida to attend an educational summit for diabetes online advocates called MasterLab Diabetes Advocates, a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  (Once again, I was a scholarship recipient, thanks to the generosity of Lilly Diabetes*).

The great thing about this meeting was the focus on making members of the Diabetes Online Community better advocates.

We heard from several excellent speakers.  The day started with the session Building Collaboration and Sustainability in Programs for Nutrition and Access in Underserved Neighborhoods.  Talking about us!! The speaker, Roniece Weaver, Executive Director of Hebni Nutrition Consultants, is a registered dietician who is working to ensure access to fresh and healthy foods for people living in low income areas in Central Florida.  She has transformed a city bus into a produce market that travels around the area providing residents with high quality fruits and vegetables.  I’m going to feature her in a future blog post.

John Griffin and George Huntley from the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council educated us on discrimination against people with diabetes in the workplace and what we can do about it.

Clinical research?? Who knew about all the ins and outs of participating in clinical trials!!  I have participated in several clinical trials and I didn’t know half the stuff.  Ellyn Getz from the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation clued me in on that.  And yes, I did ask if researchers make sure that drugs are tested on people of color and low socioeconomic status and she assured me that is a consideration.  We’ll talk to her some more too!!

And the hits just kept on coming! Jay Keese is a lobbyist in Washington DC and he talked about having legislative impact–a topic near and dear to my heart.  Unless we change public policy around how we treat chronic disease, people will continue to get sick and sicker.  We also heard from the American Association of Diabetes Educators President Hope Warsaw and Director of Government Affairs Kurt Anderson talk about bills before Congress and state legislatures.  First time I ever heard about a Diabetes Action Plan–my state actually has one!  Does yours?  Google it and find out!

Finally, and maybe most important we had a session called “Don’t Forget About You: Taking Care of Yourself While Advocating for Others.”   Dr. Mark Heyman, Center for Diabetes and Mental Health focused on recognizing how important self care is, and how you have to identify people to support and advocate on your behalf as well.

You may think that I left this long meeting and jumped into the hotel pool!  But it really was terrific and helped me to draft a statement of purpose for Diabetes While Black–and here it is:

I believe that black people suffer disproportionately from Type 2 diabetes.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  I want to live in a world where resources and education about effective prevention and management of Type 2 is easily accessible and sensitive to the needs of African American culture.  If more people understood that they are not to blame for their condition and that it can be managed, then we could reduce or eliminate the negative outcomes and suffering experienced by black people with Type 2.  The next thing I will do to combat this problem is to use social media to educate and raise awareness and identify resources for underserved people with Type 2 diabetes.  I recognize that I am not the only one doing work.  When possible, I will work to partner with the CDC, legislators, community activists, other online advocates and corporations.  And I understand that I can make a greater impact if I am healthy.  Therefore, I will continue eating well, exercising and quilting whenever I get a chance!!

I appreciated this opportunity to stop and think about how to best serve you.  DWB is a work in progress and I hope that you will join me on this journey to help people live healthier and happier lives with diabetes.

*All opinions, views and statements made in this blog are solely my own.

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