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What is Advocacy?

By Suzanne Lohnes posted 06-11-2020 22:37


I am often asked what drew me to advocacy.  The definition of advocacy is “speaking up for another person, place or thing”.   I believe it has always been my calling to speak up for injustices.  In the recent days, I have been thinking a lot about this and remember my first time standing up for someone.  In elementary school one of my classmates was being excluded from play because she looked different than the rest of us.  That night at our dinner table I shared the story and that I was upset, did not understand, and remember feeling better when my dad said he would speak to our principal the next day, so this does not continue to happen.  Now that is a childhood story, but the key element of advocacy is speaking up to raise awareness of something that needs to change. 

As diabetes care and education specialists we see inequities every day in how people with diabetes receive care.  By listening to these stories we can better understand and identify specific struggles and challenges.  We are the ones at the table that can implement the needed changes.  Simple actions, such as sharing their struggles with family, friends and co-workers, writing letters to and calling on legislators for support of legislation, and posting on social media, can be very important.  Please understand that everyone gets nervous in taking the first step but trust me once you dip your toe in the advocacy pond you will want to get more and more involved.  People with diabetes need our support.  We are the VOICE that can help amplify the stories within the diabetes community to facilitate needed changes.                                              

Ways to get involved

  • Subscribe to the Advocacy Forum on ADCES Connect.
  • Check out the ADCES Advocacy Guide with tips on how to take action.
  • Contact your CB advocacy leader and ask what diabetes legislation is currently needing support in your state and how you can help.
  • Share patient stories emphasizing a call to action needed.
  • Consider signing up as an advocate for a national organization like ADA, JDRF, National Kidney Foundation, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) or local health departments.

These are only some examples.  The best way to start is just taking that first step, and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!  As a person with type 1 diabetes, I thank you in advance for speaking up!