Friday, March 11, 2011

DC Squared

What do you get when you put part of the Diabetes Community in the District of Columbia?

No, the answer is not as simple as a chicken crossing the road, why lancets are blunt, or why Sprinkles the Unicorn lept over the sprinkled cupcake. No.

Specifically, the answer is most notably: the upcoming scene in Washington D.C. where hundreds of members of the Diabetes Community will gather, along with a handful of DOC advocates, to advocate for the cause and meet with members of Congress about diabetes issues and funding.

You might say it's DC to the Second Power, DC Squared. :)

There may or may not be sightings of Sprinkles the Unicorn, and it's rumored that some BluntLancet members and groupie Lanceters might be jammed in front of the Pentagon and with Abe Lincoln grooving nearby. I am not entirely convinced that D.C. is ready for this, or the universe for that matter...

But kidding aside. The next 4 days are bigger than that fun. It's about the entire Diabetes Community and beyond, and YOU are a part of that. Let me explain why.

This is the JDRF's annual Government Day, where about 150 advocates from all across the country gather in D.C. to network and advocate. This runs Saturday through Tuesday, and is a mix of advocacy training, research update, networking, and celebration of the organization's entire Advocacy Program. Then on Monday and Tuesday, we all descend upon Capitol Hill where we'll meet in Congressional offices with lawmakers and staffers. To tell our stories. To let them know what their votes and politics mean to our lives, and what we hope they will do in representing us. This is particularly important now, as Congress fiercely debates budget priorities and how much can be cut. Our voices can be important to letting these elected leaders know that diabetes funding isn't a place to cut, but to continue supporting.

This also follows this past week when the American Diabetes Association did it's own version of this called Call To Congress, and hundreds of advocates descended upon D.C. to do much of the same advocacy. Both overlap on Saturday, so some of us are all meeting up before they leave and we get moving on the JDRF agenda!

But even more broadly than the Congressional component, there's what the JDRF is doing to include more of the Adult Type 1s and broader Diabetes Online Community in these efforts and more generally. The JDRF has graciously invited a handful of us from the DOC to share our perspectives on what we can all do to work together. They are interested in hearing our ideas and feedback, and what it means to have our perceptions as Adults with Diabetes a part of the discussion.

I haven't been a part of something like this before, but am uber-excited about it. Not only do I get to see some very cool people who I consider good friends, but also a part of something so much bigger. Plus, it's in DC - which is cool, because I love the city and haven't been but on an 8th grade class trip and then a newspaper conference in my college years. On the Diabetes Front, this is incredibly awesome because the JDRF is pushing a renewed focus on including more of the Adult Diabetes Community into what it does.

In the past, I have written about my own frustrations with the JDRF over the years because it feels as though it stopped caring about me once I turned 18. It's a common theme echoed by many Adult Type 1s - that we are "forgotten" because we're no longer the kids that the parents founded the organization have largely been focused on. It just seemed they weren't "personally invested in us" and didn't seem interested in our perspectives, just wanted us to fund-raise or bring in more people to donate to a walk.

But that's changed in recent years, both nationally and with what I've seen here in Indiana with more outreach to the adult diabetic community. So this is another step in the right direction to continue that investment and discussion, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very excited that finally I feel as though the JDRF is reaching out to make Adult Type 1s feel as though we are important in all of this, and that the organization wants to be Personally Invested in what we want, too. That we are a part of this community and have a powerful voice, together.

There are nine of us DOCers attending: Allison Blass, Scott Johnson, Kelly Kunik,  Kelly Rawlings, Cherise Shockley, Kerri Morrone Sparling, Scott Strange, and Kim Vlasnick (plus ME!). We're having the round table discussion at 2:15 p.m. EST on Sunday. You can tune in and watch it live and participate in a few ways:
  • Submit questions via Twitter to the JDRF Advocacy staff (@JDRFAdvocacy), and follow along with those who are attending the event by watching the hashtag #JDRFGovDay.
  • Stop on by the JDRF Advocacy's Facebook page to check out updates and photos, and use that to submit questions or be a part of the discussion.
  • Watch the live webcast of our round table discussion, courtesy of the JDRF Advocacy USTREAM Channel 
This is where YOU come in, because you're just as much a part of this as anyone there. So, please: What's important to you? What do you want mentioned about what our community needs or wants as far as diabetes advocacy, or even just from the JDRF in general? What else can the JDRF do in order to engage and help the entire Diabetes Community? Please let me know in the comments section below, and make sure to check out the rest of the blogosphere as others share their thoughts on all of this. 

Disclosure: JDRF is covering the costs of my flight, hotel, and a few meals during the course of this event. I'm attending not only as a member of the DOC, but also on behalf of my JDRF chapter here in Indiana where I'm on the local Grassroots Advocacy committee. So myself and the committee chair are both attending, and we're ready to head to all 11 of our elected leaders' offices as well as be a part of the rest of this JDRF discussion. I'd received an invite from my local committee chair late last year and was already planning to attend when this DOC-component surfaced, and so that's likely how I got attached to it. However, none of this means the JDRF is influencing anything I write here now or down the road. They haven't asked that I blog about anything, and they have no control over what appears here. 

So, there is it. Let the DC rock in DC, and we'll see if the universe can keep up..

2 comments:

Meri said...

I think JDRF can advocate too. When there is a person spouting out misconceptions on national TV...I think JDRF should release an official statement. Demand retractions. They need to step up and help our voices be heard.

Things aren't going to change until the world understands how complicated this disease is.

Have a wonderful trip! High five for your efforts on our behalf!!

Brenda W. said...

I hope you had fun Michael! Thank you for being out there and advocating for all of us in the DOC :)