Many people are intimidated by the word advocacy but I encourage you to embrace it. As a parent of a child with type 1diabetes you are likely doing more advocacy work than you realize.
Every time you correct a misconception about type 1diabetes you are an advocate. Every time you educate a teacher, a coach, a caregiver or even a stranger about type 1diabetes you are an advocate making the world better for anyone living with type 1. Especially when you are dealing with a new diagnosis this level of advocacy may be sufficient. Don’t feel any pressure to do more than you or your family is comfortable with. If your child wants to be a spokesperson or raise money, follow her lead.
In my book Parenting Joyfully When Your Child Has Diabetes I remind parents to define success for themselves. In the early years post diagnosis, my son Alexander wanted to be a local ambassador and spoke in front of a large luncheon of JDRF supporters and recorded a radio advertisement. As he ages I see him taking less interest in the diabetes community. Recently, Alexander requested we skip the local diabetes walk. He feels enough of his life is already focused on diabetes. I cannot fault him for his decision. He will need to sort out for himself what role he will play in the diabetes community and I suspect his feelings may change over time.
My husband and I benefit from meeting other parents or older teens and adults living with type 1. So this year instead of walking we volunteered at the local JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes. Seeing so many members of our community support a cause dear to our hearts was inspiring. I consider everyone who walked to raise money and awareness or helped behind the scenes an advocate.
Just as Alexander’s desire to engage with the diabetes community has morphed, so has mine. Now that I have learned to live wholeheartedly with diabetes I am more active within the diabetes community. I am involved with the Canadian Diabetes Association and I am part of a parent group, Dialed In To Diabetes, advocating for a school policy for students living with type 1diabetes in Alberta.
What level of advocacy feels right for you right now?