More than 160 children living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) gathered in Washington, D.C. July 8-10 to meet face-to-face with top decision-makers in the U.S. government. The children, ages 4 to 17, represented all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For the delegates this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Members of Congress understand what it’s like to live with T1D and why research to fund life-changing therapies until a cure can be found is so critical. They represented the millions of people living with T1D and the families and friends who love them.
The Children’s Congress T1D advocacy program was inspired by Tommy Solo of Massachusetts . When he was nine Tommy asked his mother why can’t kids go to Washington and tell their Representatives what it is like to have type 1 diabetes, and why it is so important for scientists to find a cure. His mom and other JDRF volunteers agreed and, in 1999, the first-ever JDRF Children’s Congress took place in Washington, D.C.
Since then, nine successful Children’s Congresses have been held, one every other year, and more than 1,000 kids with T1D have served as delegates. JDRF’s Children’s Congress is essential in securing continued government funding of T1D research and raising awareness of the daily burden of living with this serious autoimmune disease.
Delegates form lifelong friendships, meet T1D role models, develop leadership skills, and leave Children’s Congress empowered to use their voices for the change that will improve their lives and the lives of all people affected by T1D.
This years Rocky Mountain Chapter delegates share their experiences below.
It is impossible to pick just one thing that was my favorite part about being a delegate at the JDRF Children’s Congress 2019. The whole experience was exciting and motivating. Of course, I enjoyed meeting all of the other delegates and the celebrities who deal with T1D everyday. I liked my time on Capitol Hill discussing my story with the senators and my representative. It definitely felt like I was part of something much bigger. If I had to pick one thing, I would say that I liked the sense of hope for the future and what exciting developments are coming.
- Holden, Wyoming Delegate
My favorite event over the three days was Town Hall. Town Hall is an event that included actors, professional athletes, and other famous people that live with T1D. During this event, CC delegates asked questions to participants on the panel about their career and living with Type 1 diabetes. After the panel discussion was over, all of the delegates were invited to meet all of the role models on the panel. I really enjoyed meeting actors Jennifer Stone, Derek Theler, and Victor Garber.
- Jacque, Colorado Delegate
Over the three days we spent in D.C., my favorite event was meeting with Colorado’s state representatives to advocate for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) and the reduction of the cost of insulin. My favorite part of meeting with Colorado’s state representatives was meeting Congressman Joe Neguse. Congressman Neguse was so kind to my sister and me while we met with him, and was genuinely interested and supportive of our stories, JDRF, and type 1 diabetes. Because of our efforts in connecting with him, Congressman Neguse signed on as a cosponsor of the Special Diabetes Re-authorization bill shortly after our visit. I love knowing that our voices are making a difference in the lives of the type 1 community and in the lives of those not affected by this disease.
- Sophie, Colorado Delegate