This month’s LOD meeting was inspiring and interesting!
The main focus was on camps, activities and recreational events that organisations can do and how to best plan and execute their ideas.
AGD Parma in Italy started off the meeting by telling us about their events and their ideas behind it, such as a meeting at the chocolate museum and sports tournaments – not only for people with diabetes, but as inclusive tournaments for people with diabetes and people without diabetes alike.
This was a very interesting idea, because events for people with diabetes can sometimes have limited number of participants but by including everyone in the event, it also helps to raise awareness among the general population. This is a theme we came back to several times throughout the evening. AGD Parma also pointed out the importance of having people of the same age to talk to and be able to form relationships with other people going through the same thing in life. AGD Parma’s events can be followed on Instagram here.
Next, Gavin told us about upcoming opportunities at ISPAD and IDF and also about LOD’s rebranding from League of Diathletes to League of Diabetes. LOD is not only for sports, but also includes grassroot events and community events and support at all levels, so the decision was made to change to a more inclusive name.
We then continued on to breakout rooms where we discussed our ideas and experiences about camps and events we have held. Sadly I was not able to share much about the Korean camps here as I still lack the knowledge of it all and wasn’t able to attend or get a lot of information for the camp that just passed. It was very interesting to hear about camps and events in India by YDF Foundation and how they focus on education to raise awareness.
Other topics were discussed such as what people look for in camps, different focus points per day, having a day for nutrition, a day for sport, and so on. We also talked about funding and how we can effectively use our surroundings to reduce cost – a small picnic in a park can be done without the need for a lot of funding, for example.
Gavin also told us about his background in marathon running, but that for most people, a marathon was too much, so he and his team decided to do a series of 5k walks and runs around the globe instead.
The events include a warmup using diabetes terms as it especially helps kids remember and connect to the terms and terminology better. Despite having events in several countries such as Fiji, Costa Rica, Lithuania and having all the different languages, using this game had a huge impact on all the participants.
The warmup includes activities such as doing a squat every time someone shouts ‘Hypo!’ and a jump every time they shout ‘Hyper!’ as well as the ‘insulin wriggle’ and other exercises.
More about the 5k running project can be seen in this video:
It also helps to have local community support, maybe even a local champion to help translate and facilitate, and to help put the word out online on social media and other networking channels.
This can include people not living with diabetes, a local sport club or organisation.
The diabetes organisation in Serbia, Plavi Krug, reached out to their local running club to make an awareness event, starting with a small support race and leading up to a full marathon that is now held annually. Having the support of an already established team helped to increase awareness and promotion, which led to a lot more participants.
Plavi Krug then described their races, how they are set up, how they went about getting support and organising everything. The support race is held around lake Ada, and is aimed at participants who want to support, but don’t wish to complete a whole marathon. The support race is 8km long and can be completed by walking, running, roller skating, biking – any way the participants like to.
For the actual marathon, Plavi Krug teamed up with a local celebrity who is a person living with diabetes and who is famous for always running the marathons wearing a superman costume, talking to news reporters about diabetes, checking his blood sugar on camera etc. so instead of just taking part in other marathons, they decided to make their own marathon.
Plavi Krug also shared all the things that need to be considered when starting an event like that. There is a lot of trial and error, a lot of logistics to organise and everything is based on the support of local volunteers who put in a lot of effort to set up this race every year.
However seeing the race grow every year and seeing new participants enjoying the event everytime is worth it – for example the gentleman in the red shirt is 77 years old and this was his first ever marathon!
Plavi Krug’s marathon and events can be seen here, and other events can also be seen on their youtube channel.
Dani Rojas then talked about involving healthcare professionals at camps, the benefits they can bring to the participants but also what healthcare professionals can learn by attending a camp aimed at people living with diabetes.
As one healthcare professional said ‘I didn’t know what diabetes was really like – I was working by the book, not working with the people.’ – It shows how important it is to have a team of healthcare professionals who are willing to learn.
Terry Ackley then introduced DECA – Diabetes Education and Camping Association. The team aims to create a global community of camping leaders and organisers by providing resources, information, training materials and webinars on how to set up a camp, as well as offering promotional events to share the camps with a wider audience. There is also a search function for people to find camps and events near them, from small events and day camps to sports events, overnight camps or adventure programs.
DECA is now reaching out to the international community to share information on their camps to add to the global resource of diabetes camps around the world.
More info can be found on their website at: https://www.diabetescamps.org/
After this, we wrapped up the evening with small recap on the advice we learned throughout the evening:
- start with a small local event
- A family day event at the park, a beach day or a picnic are great ways to start
- Talk to the local community, involve already established groups and teams
- Don’t limit yourself to only people living with diabetes – many organisations and clubs are happy to assist with an event to help raise awareness
- Find good and dedicated people to help as volunteers
As always it was great to be able to attend such a dedicated group of people and hear about how events started and grew from small gatherings to yearly marathons.
I do hope we will be able to start something active here in Korea too – who knows, it might build up later too!
Thank you League of Diabetes for organising this wonderful meeting 🙂