A few weeks ago, I was honoured to be given the opportunity to speak about the Young Leaders in Diabetes (YLD) program and what it means to me. Planning this speech was tough. Where do I even begin? There are so many things I wanted to share and some feelings just cannot be put down in words. Being part of the YLD is like having a family who are equally as passionate and supportive about improving our lives with diabetes. At the same time, I wanted to stress the importance of YLD and that together we can make a difference. It doesn’t matter who you are, we need your support to make changes happen. And to put that all down to 3 minutes? Good luck! Here’s a summary of what I said:
“When I was diagnosed, I felt alone and isolated. Confused, angry and upset at my type 2 diagnosis, I searched for support services for people like me. There was nothing. (Seriously, all the young adults with type 2 are ace at this game of hide and seek!) After deciding that I was done sulking, I went out to find my own support network by volunteering for diabetes camps. Empowered from my first diabetes camp experience, I decided to focus my blog on diabetes and my life with it. It wasn’t long before I discovered the Diabetes Online Community on twitter. Since then, social media has provided 24-7 access to my diabetes family. So through volunteering, standing up for what I believe in and doing what I love, that I am here today as a Young Leader in Diabetes.
What does it mean to me to be a Young Leader in Diabetes? I was given the chance to meet these amazing people from all over the world. Together, we shared our experiences with diabetes. The discrimination towards diabetes and access to medical supplies in some countries blew us away. In certain countries, people are denied access to education because they have diabetes. Some are not even allowed to start a family because they have diabetes. Even in Australia, discrimination exists. Where medical treatment access differs between the types of diabetes a person has. As anecdotes were shared, we laughed and cried together. More importantly, together we discussed solutions to our problems and how to put them into action.
As Young Leaders in Diabetes, we hope to make a difference in the world by improving the lives of everyone with diabetes. We will work together to stop this discrimination, fight for equal access to medical treatment and to raise awareness about the different types of diabetes. The YLD have given me hope, inspiration and support to turn our projects into successes. Thank you for this amazing opportunity once again to be involved in this program.”
A very special thank you to Adejumo Hakeem, co-founder of the Nigeria DOC (@theNGdoc), for filming my speech! Check it out here. While you’re doing that, check out their summary of the World Diabetes Congress 2013 here.