April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and what better time to bring you a new resource directly from the Diabetes Online Community aimed at raising awareness about diabetes and drinking?
Appropriately, it’s named Drinking with Diabetes.
You may remember it as one of the concepts that won backing from the Diabetes Hands Foundation Seeds Grant Program last summer. Created by fellow D-Advocate Bennet Dunlap, who’s dad to four great kids (the youngest two, Connor and Delaney, living with type 1) and blogs at Your Diabetes May Vary, along with his oldest (non-D) daughter Kelley.
The online guide isn’t exactly a “how to” on drinking safely with diabetes, but it offers real stories from PWDs (people with diabetes) who’ve dealt with that experience and serves as a way to start conversations with parents and young type 1s about responsible drinking behavior. Whether it’s choosing not to drink, limiting consumption, or learning in advance about what others say they “should have done,” the DOC voices are open and honest.
The site officially kicked off in late January, and has been gradually growing — including guest posts from our own team members Mike and Wil, who’ve shared their personal stories about drinking with D. Of course, you may remember that “Uncle Wil” recently put it all on the line here at the ‘Mine with some “no-bull” advice on drinking with diabetes.
Today, we bring you a little more from Bennet and Kelley on what this new resource is all about:
Drinking With Diabetes evolved out of a simple observation: I noticed that as my son Connor got older, the number of relevant resources available to him started to dwindle – and right at the same time he was being faced with all kinds of complicated decisions. I brought this up to Kelley one afternoon while visiting her in New York . She was also troubled by the fact that as kids enter that nebulous phase of young adulthood, they don’t have the same kind of support they once did as children with diabetes.
These kids aren’t as cute as they once were – they aren’t prime material for fundraising brochures anymore – and the challenges they’re facing are more complicated. Many of them have had diabetes for a decade or more, and people don’t see their needs as urgent, so to some extent, they get forgotten.
Meanwhile, for better or worse, drinking is an integral part of the college experience for many students. It’s insane to pretend otherwise. While drinking in college can be risky for any kid, there are additional considerations that make it even more complicated for people with type 1. So our kids with diabetes need to learn to navigate the world they live in and part of that world is lubricated by booze. Sadly, this is an area where parental projections of their kid’s behavior may miss the reality of college.
Personally, I think it’s a lot better to talk about alcohol than assume it is not an issue and have it become one.
We saw a need for clear resources for this group. Our aim was to create resource that could help families have discussions about drinking safely with diabetes.
Enter the Diabetes Hands Foundation. At the same time we were having this conversation, the DHF was accepting applications for their first round of Seed Grants for diabetes-related projects. It seemed like such a no-brainer that we completed the proposal for a Drinking With Diabetes website that same afternoon.
We were fortunate enough to get the DHF grant — right around the time Kelley got her first post-grad job as an associate digital producer for a nationally syndicated health talk show (cue the proud dad prompt!). She suddenly had a lot more insight into creating a health-centric online resource and a lot less time to execute. We didn’t make our initial deadline; it took months not weeks, but we did create a website with a lot more resources than we initially proposed when it did launch in January.
We built the site around this idea: We acknowledge the reality that there is a lot of alcohol on college campuses and we aim to serve as a resource to help young adults make informed choices. How we go about that is a multi-pronged approach. On one hand, we have a lot of fact sheets and those facts are presented in an easily digestible way.
For example, there’s an infographic we created that students or parents can print out (you can click below to see a bigger version):
And we also have a single page Drinking With Diabetes contract that can spell out terms between parents and students. We’ve even been adding nutritional and carb count info about various drinks that you may encounter out there on the drinking scene, and more recently on March 29 I blogged about a new app, the Type 1 Diabetes Friend: Alcohol Guide, created by a PWD over in the UK and available for free. So, there’s a lot of useful information and resources to use in raising awareness about this topic.
On the other hand, we recruit popular bloggers to share stories from their own lives — how they drink safely, why they choose not to drink, what they wish they had been taught — so that people can learn from the experience of people who have been there.
We are working with the College Diabetes Network (CDN), and are going to share an “Ask the Endo” section with them that will answer some general questions and provide anonymity.
Of course, we don’t mean to suggest that alcohol is the only (or even a necessary!) college experience, just that alcohol IS part of the landscape of college life. All we hope to do is help families navigate that landscape safely. We hope every young adult that leaves home to go to college focuses primarily on working hard to achieve dreams and ambitions. But part of that means having the tools to make safe choices while they are on campus.
We love what you’re doing, Bennet and Kelley and the whole Dunlap clan! We look forward to seeing this new resource widely utilized and hopefully integrated into college planning for PWDs wherever they may be.