JDRF Children’s Congress: Motivating T1D Youth to Pay it Forward
Jasmine Meriedy, a student at Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA
Ten years from now, Jasmine Meriedy sees herself working as an entertainment journalist, interviewing Zendaya or Chris Evans at a red-carpet event.
But today, Jasmine is a full-time college student at Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA, majoring in mass communications.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 1, Jasmine’s family got involved with JDRF right away with a OneWalk Team, Jasmine’s Angels. “I don’t remember a time when the JDRF family wasn’t there for my family and me,” she said.
“JDRF helped us get connected to other families that understood the struggles of having a child with T1D,” said LaQuanta Bailey, Jasmine’s mom. “Our family then mentored other newly diagnosed families to ease their concerns with their new journey.”
A Passion for Advocacy
Jasmine has always had a strong passion for advocacy, particularly when it comes to those who struggle to afford T1D supplies. “No one should have to weigh the options of paying for medication or the cost of living in our country,” she said. She participated in JDRF’s “Promise to Remember Me” campaign, where she visited her local congressman’s office to encourage support of JDRF’s research initiatives.
Jasmine took the next big step in her advocacy work by participating in JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress. The experience empowered her to speak out about her T1D. “Children’s Congress opened many doors for me to be able to share more about my experience and others living with type 1 diabetes,” she said. “Many people are shocked when I say that I went to Washington to speak about my condition, especially at a young age.”
While some of Jasmine’s favorite memories from Children’s Congress are making lifelong friends and game nights in the hotel, it also made her feel like part of a much larger community. “It helped me see that I’m not alone in the day-to-day routine of T1D and we are all fighting for a cure,” she said.
An Exciting Year Ahead
The next JDRF Children’s Congress will take place July 9-11, 2023—the first time it is being held since 2019 due to the pandemic. The excitement is building in JDRF Advocacy, with an event schedule already packed with educational sessions, social events, and a Senate hearing.
“Children’s Congress is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for kids with T1D,” said Elena Purdy, Senior Manager of JDRF Grassroots Advocacy. “Seeing the delegates feel a sense of empowerment and learn to use their voices is just incredible.”
JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress Delegates will focus on several advocacy initiatives:
- Creating significant support within Congress for a renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which currently provides $150 million/year for T1D research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Engaging the FDA to ensure regulatory policies provide optimized pathways for approval of T1D therapies and devices.
- Ensuring T1D screening and monitoring is more widely accepted in the U.S. healthcare system.
- Accelerating progress towards more affordable insulin.
Paying it Forward
LaQuanta believes that JDRF Children’s Congress helped build confidence in her daughter and hopes Jasmine will use that confidence to pay it forward. “I can see her mentoring other kids to show them that it’s okay to be different—it sets you apart in a special way,” she said.
Jasmine can’t stress enough how important of a role JDRF Children’s Congress played in shaping who she is. “It changes your perspective on life, showing you that you’re not alone.”
JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress® applications are open now through November 30 at cc.jdrf.org.