#MasterLab: Advocacy and Movement.


I was fortunate enough to attend the Diabetes Advocates MasterLab in Orlando last week. I was there thanks to a scholarship provided by Diabetes Hands Foundation. My thanks to everyone who made this event possible, and made it possible for me to attend.
This MasterLab thing… it was great, it really fired me up to do more with my advocacy, and it even boosted my morale.

Now what? And by extension, you may be thinking, “What do you want me to do?”.

For me, advocacy is a very personal thing. I think it should be for you too.

My only advice: Don’t let the word handcuff you.

I try to think of advocacy with a little a, rather than a big A. I don’t give the word too much influence over me. Earlier in my life, I was intimidated by the word. That intimidation caused me to do nothing at all, which doesn’t help anyone.

But not any longer. Not because I suddenly got braver. No… now I try to concentrate on the things I’m capable of focusing on. If my efforts need to start small, then grow later, okay. I simply try to do what I can, when the need arises. If that eventually turns into full-fledged Advocacy with a capital A, then great. If not, I’ll find something else to get involved in. Not everything is a roaring success.

But… some things are. I not only want to be a part of those successes. I want to help make them happen sooner.

Here’s how you can take a tangible step toward joining a movement, all from the comfort of your own electronic device:

Go to the Diabetes Action Hub now. Take the Diabetes Advocacy Survey (you’ll complete it in less than 5 minutes). Add your information to the database. Help build a strong group of supporters that will be part of a movement, allowing us all to help make our cause bigger and stronger. Then check out the rest of the Diabetes Action Hub to find out how you can help right now. And don’t forget to visit often for updates and calls to action on issues that mean the most to us.

Do you know what has happened to me over the past two and a half years? I’ve gotten involved from time to time in efforts designed to help people. I haven’t always had the time to throw myself fully into whatever need arose, but often I was able to do at least something. What that means is that unlike two and a half years ago, I am actually doing something.

There is a difference between advocacy and a movement. Advocacy is being in someone’s corner… I’ve got your back. I’ll stand up for you, whether or not you can stand up for yourself.

A movement is when many people take tangible steps that have a positive impact for others. Those tangible steps are often small steps. But in big enough numbers, they can move mountains. One big effort by one person is significant. Many small efforts toward the same goal create a movement that no one can ignore.

We need more advocates. No question about it. We need more agitators and litigators and innovators. If that’s you, please step forward. I’ll stand with you and support you.

But I think what we’re missing is a movement. A movement that comes from an army of people that numbers in the hundreds of millions worldwide, who are living with and affected by diabetes. An army of people who are willing to say “I can’t do everything, but I can do something, just let me know”. An army of people who are just trying to do what they can, when the need arises. Because life, and the quality of life, hangs in the balance.

Things have improved tremendously for People With Diabetes in the past few decades. But we’re still an underfunded, misunderstood, red-headed stepchild of a condition. Whether you think five people calling your congressperson is a movement, or whether you think 500,000 people marching on the capitol is the correct definition of a movement, the fact is we need both you and me to be able to reach those numbers. We need you and we need me and we need your family and we need the people at your local coffee house and we need the Congress and the Senate and the President of the United States and if need be, the Supreme Court to get on the steamroller that’s just starting up right now. I look forward to the day when we’re no longer talking about starting a movement, but rather talking about the movement we started.

Are you with me? Take the Diabetes Advocacy Survey now.

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