137 “Young Leaders” at IDF’s World Congress in Melbourne

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I’m in Melbourne Australia where Friday night I spoke to 137 young people from 70 countries, largely with type 1 diabetes. They are known as the“Young Leaders” and are part of a program sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). 

Tomorrow IDF’s World Congress brings together 10,000 global health care professionals, members of industry, pharma, patients and media who have gathered to hear about the latest advances in diabetes, treatment  and education as diabetes only continues to grow at rapid rates around the globe.

Yet while diabetes seems to run rampant with no end in sight, Friday was an enormously special evening. I was the kick-off speaker for Novo Nordisk, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, if not the largest, headquartered in Denmark. And it is also an exceptional company. Their mission and values include helping patients manage the psycho social aspect of diabetes.  

From 2011-2013 Novo conducted an impressive study on what patients need emotionally to live healthy lives with diabetes. Top findings were: 1) family involvement and support, 2) Education and 3) Fair treatment. The study, called DAWN2 (Diabetes Attitude, Wishes and Needs) follows an original DAWN study conducted by the company in 2001. 

Throughout the World Congress this week DAWN2 study results will be shared with attendees. But Friday night they were shared exclusively with the Young Leaders.

Following, I had the distinct pleasure to co-facilitate a workshop to help the Young Leaders develop their personal “stories,” and with the major findings from the study, create powerful, persuasive messages for their advocacy.   

As I told the group, our stories of living with diabetes are one of our most powerful tools to elicit change. They are the string that goes out and ties us together, inspires hope and possibility, and moves mountains – which is frankly what we need today and in the coming years to stop this epidemic. 

I am especially gratified to know that these young leaders will be moving mountains when they get back to their home country. And, frankly, that inspires me. 

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