Breathing Fresh Air into Diabetes Education

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Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Jen Hanson, Executive Director of Connected in Motion, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

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We are Connected in Motion, and we are here to tell the story of Type 1 diabetes as we lead the charge in living life with Type 1 a little differently. We want to tell you about the community that is being built, the stereotypes that are being re-written, and the lives that are being changed each and every day.

Let’s start with a few facts about Type 1.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. It has no known cause and no cure. It affects between 5 -10% of all individuals with diabetes and is diagnosed, most often, in children.

Although diagnosis is most common among children, the disease is a chronic condition – it lasts forever. In fact, over 85% of individuals living with Type 1 diabetes in North America are adults. Unfortunately, the large majority of support, education, and funding for Type 1 diabetes exclusively serves youth living with the disease.

Insulin is not a cure for diabetes, but it does help us to manage the disease. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to live – often 4-5 (or more!) times per day – delivered through needles, insulin pens, or an insulin pump. And then there are the daily blood glucose tests – anywhere from 4-12 times a day. Needless to say, with insulin and all the required medical supplies required that are not covered by provincial health plans, living with Type 1 diabetes is expensive. Without a group health plan through an employer, almost all of the costs of living with Type 1 diabetes in Canada are incurred out of pocket. In some provinces, that can add up to nearly $10,000 per year. Just to stay alive.

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Along with Type 1 diabetes comes a whole range of other health ‘opportunities’, including increased risk for anxiety, depression, vision problems, kidney problems, nerve damage… The list goes on. Managing Type 1 diabetes becomes extra challenging and sometimes darn-near impossible when you throw anxiety and stress, exercise, illness, travel, and food into the mix.

But wait a second! That seems like a lot, right? And if over 85% of people with Type 1 diabetes are adults, why is there such a lack of support and education for this population? Isn’t adulthood when we experience the most anxiety and stress (think new jobs, new relationships, new homes, babies, marriage, mother-in-laws…)? Here at Connected in Motion, we asked the same questions.

About Connected in Motion (CIM)

CIM was founded in 2008 out of a need for engaging, age appropriate support and education for adults with Type 1 diabetes. We figured if we’re going to be spending so much of our time managing this disease anyway, why not have a little fun as we learn and make sure we are learning in ways that are going to have a lasting impact?

CIM has been working to pioneer and put into practice experiential diabetes education programming across Canada and, by doing so, breathing fresh air into diabetes education. Our Slipstream programs provide opportunities for individuals with Type 1 diabetes to come together to learn more about themselves and diabetes management through outdoor adventure and sport.

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The programs are a chance for people to take the lessons and skills about managing their Type 1 diabetes that they have learned in a traditional health care setting, and practice them in a safe and supportive environment. For example, we have all heard about the benefits of exercise – from our healthcare providers, from magazines, from our family and friends. Just as exercise is necessary for healthy living, it is also an important tool in managing T1D. But when you’re living with Type 1 diabetes, exercise can cause blood sugar levels to drop, and that can make you nervous when you’re managing diabetes. CIM programs bring together adults with to share their own experiences and help make being active and living with Type 1 diabetes a little bit easier.

CIM’s program model allows for individuals to reflect on their successes and challenges, and to truly integrate new learning into their lifestyles. Being surrounded by other people who live with Type 1, who speak the language, and who ‘get it’, makes living life with diabetes easier. CIM also provides programming for loved ones, family, and friends of individuals living with Type 1. After all, when we think about it, they are living with diabetes, too!

So let’s get back to those Type 1 diabetes facts.

There isn’t a dream to be dreamed that someone with Type 1 diabetes cannot make into a reality. Can we fly planes? You bet! Can we climb mountains? We did last week! Can we be parents? You better believe it!

Do we have to work harder to make these dreams come true? Yep. But that challenge in and of itself is what drives so many of us to reach higher, go further, and move faster. With a strong community to support us, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

Connected in Motion is striving to create that community of support – the one that provides the resources, inspiration, and stories of success that drive this generation and generations after them to dream their dreams and bring them to life.

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To learn more about Connected in Motion, please visit their charity profile page»

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One Response to “Breathing Fresh Air into Diabetes Education”

  1. Jen Hanson

    Thanks you SO MUCH for the opportunity to share, Canada Helps!

     •  Reply