Thursday, 7 June 2018

Why I'm Organising the "Young, Fun and Type 1" Event!

As most of you know, my name is Alyssa Faulkner and I am the organiser of the ‘Young, Fun and Type One’ event in Scotland. The event is for young adults aged 16-30 living with Type 1 diabetes in Scotland, and there are going to be workshops and presentations on a range of topics, including travelling with Type 1, pregnancy and parenting, sports and university. I am in this age group (I’m 19) and I think this will be an amazing event because it is organised by young adults for young adults, the majority of the speakers and volunteers will be young adults, and it isn’t an event where health care professionals try and guess what they think young adults want.

I noticed that a lot of the programmes run by Diabetes UK are more aimed at children living with Type 1 diabetes and their families or older people with diabetes, and while these are very important programmes, I think it is important to have something purely tailored for young adults, where they can be themselves and where everyone around them will understand, and hopefully make some friends. Originally, I was going to take my idea to Diabetes Scotland and hope that they organised something, however I ended up thinking “Why don’t I organise it?”. I have lived experience, I have been to a couple of events similar and although it would be a challenge, I believed I had the capacity to do it.

I pitched the idea to Diabetes Scotland, and after a lot of negotiating about everyone’s roles, the ‘Young Fun and Type One’ event is going to be held on the 23rd June at the Glynhill Hotel in Renfrew! As I am part of the Diabetes Scotland Young Leaders project, this event is one of the projects that is included in that. This is a free event, so if you fit the criteria, bring a friend or family member (they don’t have to live with diabetes or in the age range), register here, and I’ll see you there!

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes over 5 years ago now, when I was 14 years old. When I was diagnosed, I feel I was a bit naive about the challenges that were ahead of me, and it wasn’t for a couple of months that I realised that living with Type 1 diabetes was difficult, and that I would live with it for the rest of my life. I still remembered what it was like to go to school, have lunch without having to give insulin, go to P.E. and not have to check my blood sugar and reduce my insulin. Just small things that all add up.

I felt a bit lonely for the first months, because it was always me having to explain to other people why I needed insulin and no, I couldn’t go to the toilet to give my injection because it made you more comfortable. I was never around people who fully understand, and I think that’s why when I found some of the online groups for teenagers with Type 1 diabetes, I was so relieved. I could vent and ask questions to people who understood.

On that group, someone posted about camps that Diabetes UK run called ‘Care Events’ (which are now called Type 1 Events) and the one I applied for was a week-long one for young people aged 16-18 living with Type 1 diabetes. It was an incredible experience because not only did I make life-long friends, it was amazing to have a full week of not feeling like the odd one out, because everyone was testing their blood sugar and taking insulin.

This is why I wanted to organise a day event for young adults living with Type 1 diabetes, because I have experienced what it’s like to feel a bit isolated with Type 1 Diabetes and also experienced what it is like to have a network of people around you who understand, and I want a lot of people to experience that!

See you there, and until next time,

Alyssa x