Let's talk about advocacy

Mindy Bartleson

Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal: the act or process of advocating for something.”

This definition helps to remind me that advocacy is about the “big” and the “little” things. It’s advocacy for a community, but it’s advocacy for you, too. Both of these forms of advocacy are equally important and often work together.

Sometimes, I get caught up in just the “big” parts of advocacy; raising voices together, taking action, making change at the institutional level. Those forms of advocacy really drive me, but many of us advocate for ourselves in little ways every day. All types of advocacy are needed; from joining together during Diabetes Awareness Month, College Diabetes Week, and Changing Diabetes Day to simply requesting a diet soda when you know the one you got just tastes a lot like a regular soda…

All of that’s advocacy, and I personally love and believe in all types. We need to recognize and pat ourselves on the back for all of the forms of advocacy we participate in. During Diabetes Awareness Month this year, I’ve felt like I’ve been able to join and watch advocacy all across the spectrum through CDN which has included new experiences.

During College Diabetes Week, the CDN office joined alongside chapters across the country for the theme days. For Educate, we hosted a “Cookies and Coffee Break with CDN” in our office. This was a chance to educate people in our office building about Diabetes, living with Diabetes in college, and of course what we do as a non-profit organization. 

For the advocate theme day, we’ve started working with our office building to get sharps containers available. We’re still working with building management to get these containers installed, but this is a great example that advocacy can take time. It isn’t just snapping your fingers and getting everything fixed right away, but it’s finding a need, creating a game plan, working with the people involved, and finding a solution.

On Thursday, November 17, I was able to attend my first Changing Diabetes at the Massachusetts’ State House. We were able to get together with other people who had something in common that they cared about; Diabetes. Many of the speakers had some kind of connection to Diabetes; family members, their jobs, people in their districts, themselves, and the list goes on. It is a way to bring people together to create a clear and louder voice.

Advocacy means something a little different to everyone, and people join advocacy in different ways depending on their strengths and passions. It’s important to advocate all year long, but Diabetes Awareness Month in November, College Diabetes Week, and Changing Diabetes Day help to bring people together, find goals, fuel passion and drive, educate, and make change.

The big and little things go hand in hand and work together: change for your own inner circle and change for the world.

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The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide innovative peer based programs which connect and empower students and young professionals to thrive with diabetes.

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