Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting singer (and season 5 American Idol finalist) Elliott Yamin. Yamin, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 16, is currently lending his voice to Inspired by Diabetes, a project cosponsored by the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) Unite for Diabetes initiative and pharmaceutical corporation Eli Lilly and Company. At the center of this project is the Creative Expression Competition, a worldwide contest "which seeks expressions of the challenges and triumphs of the diabetes journey through art, essay, poetry, photography and music."
In addition to giving people with diabetes a chance to express themselves artistically, the competition is raising money for the IDF’s Life for a Child program. This program provides life-saving drugs and supplies to children with diabetes in developing countries, and $1 will be donated by Eli Lilly and Company for every entry in the Inspired by Diabetes competition. You can learn more about the Life for a Child program at www.lifeforachild.idf.org, where you can also make your own tax-deductible donation that will help bring medicine, clinical care, diabetes education, and more to children with diabetes around the world and in the United States who desperately need them.
“No one should go without,” said Yamin, who feels passionately that having medicine should not be a privilege. Because he understands firsthand how his daily dose of insulin keeps him alive, he said that he was determined to do his part so that everyone who needs insulin will have access to it. In addition to his work with the Inspired by Diabetes project, Yamin is selling T-shirts and pins at his concerts that bear the logo of the Unite for Diabetes campaign and donating proceeds to Life for a Child.
These initiatives fit right in with the theme for the third week of National Diabetes Month, which is “Diabetes Around the World.” Encompassing World Diabetes Day, which took place on November 14, this is a time to remember that diabetes is a global epidemic, with rates of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes rising worldwide. However, many people in developing countries do not have easy access to the drugs and supplies they need to control their diabetes. In fact, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the developing world shoulders 70% of the global burden of diabetes, but only 5% of people in the developing world get adequate diabetes care.
To help address this issue, the United Nations designated World Diabetes Day a United Nations Day this year—the first time such a resolution has been made about a noncommunicable disease. Some of the aims of World Diabetes Day are to call on the international community to make diabetes prevention and control a high-priority public health issue, to increase collaboration between different diabetes associations, to increase government involvement, and to improve public understanding of the importance of early diagnosis and prevention of diabetes.
Yamin will be one of the judges for the Inspired by Diabetes Creative Expressions Competition, which is accepting entries through January 31, 2008. Children and adults with diabetes, family members, friends, and health-care professionals are encouraged to enter. There are separate age categories for children, and grand prize winners from the U.S. and the world will have their winning entries featured on the Inspired by Diabetes Web site and receive trips to the openings of the U.S. and global exhibitions. Entries may be in the form of art, music, essay, poetry, or photography—specific entry guidelines can be found here.
I asked Yamin if he had any advice for prospective contest entrants. “Be as genuine and real as possible,” he said. “People are drawn to real stories.”