Sport Report - IDF Europe Youth Leadership Camp 2013

I know that I'm always saying on this blog that when people with diabetes come together, something great happens. But the IDF Youth Leadership Camp is a prime example of this. There were 25 applicants from 24 different countries seemingly with just one thing in common- Having Type 1 diabetes. But by the time we left, anyone would think that we'd all been friends for years.

People came from all around the European Union for the residential camp and from outside of the EU too. We came as representatives from the UK, Poland, Sweden, Serbia, Russia and many many more locations. Young Leaders were aged from 19 to 30 years of age, from all walks of life including numerous doctors, nurses, academics and students. 

The camp was held in the Italian Olympic Village that is situated in the countryside about half an hour outside of Pisa, in Italy. We stayed in the village itself which boasted numerous fantastic sporting facilities including a full-size athletics track, indoor gymnasium, tennis courts and rugby/football fields. Which was perfect for the week long programme which consisted of workshops, talks, presentations and much sport. 

The workshops were both interesting and varied and were a mixture of lectures and practical tasks. The talks- including some from members of the IDF speaking on advocacy, campaigning and diabetes development in Europe, were very insightful. Every evening a few members of the group would give individual presentations about their member associations, and about what's is being done for diabetes in their home countries. It was awe inspiring to find out about the work that is being done in Europe by other young people and their associations.

Some of the stories that will stay with me in the future include one from Roman from the Ukraine, where people with diabetes are struggling with the availability of pumps. He and his association managed to raise enough money to fund 300 pumps for young people in just 2 years. And another was Nikila and Tijanna's story from Serbia, who have been using sport to raise awareness and funds for their self-funded diabetes centre for the community. Their campaigns are both funny and imaginative- my particular favourites including 'Hoop for Diabetes Day'- a basketball tournament with local celebrities. And also ' Diabetes Doesn't Make Me Miss the Party'.

We were also taught before hand how to manage our food and insulin intake, in order to prepare for the many sporting activities in the 30 degree heat. The advice was so good that I only had one hypo the whole week, and I believe that was because of an over-correction and was not sport related. It was amazing to meet so many inspiring young people, but I also loved meeting Giorardo- the President of the Associazone Nazionale Italiana Atleti Diabetici. A diabetologist by trade and recently diagnosed Type 2 person with diabetes Giorardo has spent his life devoted to diabetes care. Including this club which is specifically a sport and diabetes association that provides camps and sports days for upto 100 Italian children per day.

The programme for the week was so action packed that there was no time for souvenirs, however the things that I will take with me from the camp will last a life-time. I have fond memories, new friends and inspiration and insight to deliver new and exciting things to the diabetes community in the UK. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have attended, and look forward to working with the IDF and association members in the future. 

Special thanks for the week go to Katie Gallagher who organised the event and without which we wouldn't have been there. The IDF Europe and all of it's wonderful staff who gave their time to be with us and make our experience such a wonderful one. The sponsors who made it so easy for us to attend and enjoy and the healthcare professionals who kept us safe and well the entire time we were away. And my association Diabetes UK for sending me. THANK YOU.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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