World Diabetes Day 2018 is coming up in just a couple of months — November 14, 2018, to be exact. Each year, this day features a number of diabetes awareness campaigns, both in the physical world and online. And while it’s always possible to get involved in some way at the last minute, if you’d like to take on any sort of organizing role or plan ahead for an event, it’s crunch time!
World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness in response to rising diabetes rates worldwide, and it was made an official United Nations holiday in 2006. It’s recognized on November 14 because that’s the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.
Each year, the IDF selects a theme for the occasion. For World Diabetes Day 2017, it was Women and Diabetes, to highlight how women are disproportionately affected by the condition — including having greater difficulty conceiving and a higher risk for poor pregnancy outcomes.
For World Diabetes Day in both 2018 and 2019, the theme is The Family and Diabetes, to highlight how diabetes affects not just an individual, but spouses and children.
What activities to expect
World Diabetes Day events, as a rule, aren’t centrally planned. Instead, a variety of groups and individuals decide to organize and host events and activities.
Since the main objective of the day is diabetes awareness, there are a few different online campaigns organized to spread the word about different aspects of diabetes. One, from World Diabetes Day sponsor Novo Nordisk, is an online Type 2 diabetes risk assessment test called Know Your Risk. People are encouraged to take the test and share their results on social media (with the hashtag #KnowYourRisk), to encourage others to see and take the test, as well.
Another campaign that spans the digital and physical worlds is the IDF’s “go blue” campaign, incorporating the blue circle as the universal symbol for diabetes awareness. Various diabetes-related groups and workplaces encourage members to wear blue for World Diabetes Day, and often post photos on social media — sometimes with the group posing in a circle.
The “go blue” campaign also involves buildings and monuments throughout the world being lit in blue to commemorate the day. These locations range from national houses of parliament to city halls and local landmarks.
It’s worth noting that not all “go blue” commemorations happen on World Diabetes Day. Last year, for example, the Empire State Building in New York City was lit in blue on December 13 for a diabetes fundraising event called the Empire Ball.
World Diabetes Day is also the day of the Global Diabetes Walk, in which over 4 million people have participated since it began in 2004. Last year, over 1 million people in 80 countries took part, according to the World Diabetes Foundation, which started the walk and loosely oversees it. But out of all regions in the world where the group tracks participation, the walk is least popular in North America — possibly because other diabetes-related walks and events attract participation instead.
How to get involved
There are several ways to get involved with World Diabetes Day 2018, depending on how much time and effort you’d like to spend.
Probably the easiest way is to be active on social media, such as by sharing the event’s key messages to promote diabetes awareness — and using the hashtag #WDD2018.
You can also take a selfie on the day of the event and share it, ideally while wearing blue or a blue circle — or using the official Blue Circle selfie app for iOS and Android.
You can also look for a local World Diabetes Day event, although the official worldwide event page may not be helpful — it only includes events that are shared with the IDF, which doesn’t include everything. You may have better luck looking for a JDRF event in your area, either for World Diabetes Day or for National Diabetes Month (November).
If you’re looking to take on some organizational responsibility, you can organize and promote a local event for World Diabetes Day (and register it with the IDF). An event can be almost anything — a purely symbolic or commemorative activity (including lighting a building or monument in blue), a rally involving people speaking about diabetes, or an educational seminar. Or it can be a walk, as part of the Global Diabetes Walk (guidelines and registration are available for that, as well).
If you’re organizing an event or if you work in a health-care setting, you can use official educational and promotional materials that are available for World Diabetes Day.
No matter what your skills are or how much time you have, there’s a way to get the word out about diabetes on November 14.
Want to learn about events that have taken place for previous World Diabetes Day commemorations? Read “World Diabetes Day Blue Monument Challenge,” “World Diabetes Day ‘Blue Circle’ Photo Contest,” and “Go Blue for Breakfast This World Diabetes Day.”