The Hunt for Adult Type 1s has begun in Central Indiana.
At a recent JDRF Indiana Outreach Committee meeting Monday on the northside of Indianapolis, those people attending focused on the topic of finding more adult Type 1 diabetics who might be interested in getting involved in this area's chapter of the now 40-year-old national organization. Most of the active members and volunteers are Parents of Children With Diabetes, who are the very ones in fact who founded the foundation back in 1970 to focus on cure research. You have some adult diabetics who've been very involved for years, but they are a minority. We want to increase that presence and what the JDRF means for us overall... At least here in Indiana.
Sure, being a member of the ever-expanding Diabetes Online Community through blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Juvenation, has connected me with many awesome adult Type 1s nationally. But I haven't met many inside Indiana, and that's something I'd like to see change. The JDRF efforts seem to be a great place to start.
Fellow D-Blogger Scott Strange, a veteran Type 1 for 40 years who runs Strangely Diabetic, posted about this recently and echoed many of the thoughts I've had on the subject of the JDRF: "Honestly.. I just feel that I personally have little use for the national organizations. They seem willing to use me for funding but offer so little in return that can improve my life on a daily basis. And I dearly hope that a cure can be found so no one else has to go through this."
In the past year or two, the realization hit me that the JDRF does, in fact, affect my world and it has historically done that in these 26 years of Living with the D. It's been largely connected with my involvement with the Diabetes Online Community, seeing other younger and older adult Type 1s who have remained involved and have discussed their own perspectives on all of this. I began to see more that finding a cure is the priority, but the JDRF has in funding that research and leading the way changed the way the world thinks about Type 1 diabetes, how society reacts to it, how schools manage those issues, and how technology is developed for better management short of that end-all cure. Insulin pumps, CGMs are just two of those examples that have changed the way we live with this chronic condition, and I've benefited greatly from it. That is worth giving back to the JDRF in time and advocacy, just as it intimately fits in with a larger goal of being more of a Diabetes Advocate in general and doing whatever I can from my own little corner booth.
So, the new goal is to reach out through Facebook, Twitter, the D-O-C, and in person to engage more adult Type 1s who may have also been "left out" but may want more. The JDRF created an Adult Type 1 Toolkit to help re-engage this segment and it contains some great info. I'll be talking with my Endo in the coming weeks about reaching out to those Adult Type 1s she knows, hoping we can connect - other volunteers are doing the same for this region. A goal in all of this may be what's tentatively being dubbed the Adult Ambassadors Initiative - basically involves bringing more adult Type 1s into the JDRF fold, getting them to be the faces for this group, be spokespeople and take on sort of mentorship roles. Maybe talk to kids and families who sometimes might look to us as inspiration.
Getting to these other fellow Adult Type 1s may involve answering for them a key question: What does the JDRF mean for you now, and what can it offer your life?
To again echo Scott Strange: "For me, advocacy has to be about directly working with, talking to, listening to, and learning from the people that I can maybe help in some small way. We (Adult Type 1s) need to just be able to get together, whether we even talk about diabetes or not. It is so comforting to know that you are in the presence of people who are not going to judge you, not going to lecture you. Folks you can honestly make an instant connection with because you have something in common that is so in-grained, so intrinsic to you all."
So, while it's not Red October, it is a worthy mission and one worth pursuing. It's all a work in progress, but every initiative has a beginning and this is it. My hunt begins.