NCD Child Conference 2012

As you’ve probably noticed (or not) the CDN blog has been lacking, but we’re back! Happy 2012! Our very own Christina Roth will be kicking it off with a post about her recent experience at the NCD Child Conference in Oakland, CA.

I had never thought of Type 1 diabetes as part of this large international movement encompassing other conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, asthma, even the need for newborn screening. I had been so focused on “my diabetes’’, that day to day grind that seems to always be throwing something new at you, and can make you want to start hitting your head against a wall at the end of the day….(ya you know the one!), that I hadn’t seen the full scope of what diabetes is a part of.

But here I was, flown all the way to California (thank you to the amazing folks at the Public Health Institute and our partners at CLAN (Caring and Living as Neighbors)), for this conference on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in children. I was a bit nervous that my focus on college students might not quite fit in, but excited either way. I had done my homework, I knew that there had been a large international meeting held at the end of 2011 to address the growing threat of non-communicable diseases, and I also knew that children were only mentioned a handful of times.

I happened to be more than pleasantly surprised. One of the big take away messages of the conference was the need to address these problems at all stages of the life cycle (young adults included…check!).  And another that stood out to me was how difficult it is to actually change people’s behavior, and that despite ridiculous amounts of money spent on it, most public health initiatives struggle, particularly with the number of staff needed to keep them successful. These may seem like obvious conclusions, and relatively unrelated, however they kept me running on barely any sleep for about a week.

One of the first things that I thought of was that many people with diabetes go into careers related to health, as they have unique insight, passion and expertise. In addition, the job “situation” is tough, many college students are unable to get jobs, or need experience to beef up those resumes. So, my obvious conclusion was: wouldn’t college students with diabetes be the PERFECT candidates to work with these amazing organizations, as they are the individuals that kids actually look up to and are willing to change their behavior in order to emulate, AND they are passionate and value their health? How cool would it be to intern internationally?! Or to intern with an organization that can have widespread impact?! Once I had come to all of these conclusions, it was pretty clear to me that this could be a great opportunity for our CDN students.

So on that note, I highly recommend checking out the NCD child movement. Check out their website, and the first inaugural conference at http://www.ncdchild.org/News/Inaugural-NCD-Child-Conference-a-huge-success.

We, here at CDN, will keep you posted on what’s going on with the NCD movement, and how you can get involved!

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