International Diabetes Federation Europe Editorial Article

I almost can't believe that it's been a year since I went to Italy for International Diabetes Federation Europe's Diabetes Youth Leadership camp. But I know it has, as the new cohort of recruits are just heading off to Croatia this month, to discover more about their own diabetes and that of other people's, from other countries around Europe.

A few weeks ago I was asked by Gael from IDF Europe to write an editorial article about my experiences of living with diabetes and doing sport to coincide with the camp, for the IDF Newsroom. The 'theme' as it were, for the Youth Leadership camps is usually sport and diabetes which I greatly approve of. Not just because I enjoy sport and think others should be given the opportunity to enjoy it too. But because what better way is there to teach young leaders to break down barriers, than doing something they may not have thought was possible with their condition. From this new found knowledge, leadership camp participants can then go back to their respective countries and share the positive message!

You can find a shorter version of the editorial below, but if you would like to read it in full, you can find the complete version here.

Sports and diabetes: you can do anything you set your mind to!
The words sport and diabetes are not two things you hear said together often. But I could not imagine my life with diabetes consisting of one without the other. My name is Melanie Stephenson, I have had type 1 diabetes since the age of 13 and have done athletics since the age of 16. Since then I have represented my country in sport, and carried the Olympic Torch thanks to my passion for the two. Above all doing sport has given me the power, motivation and dedication to manage my diabetes and achieve the things that I want to do in life.
I started athletics because it was something that I enjoyed while I was in school. It was at the regional schools championships that I found I had a talent for sprinting. I decided then to take it more seriously and get myself a coach. I worked hard to train four times a week and manage my diabetes.
Athletics taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to. There were times when healthcare professionals questioned me as to if doing sport was necessary, meaning that without it I would have a more regular routine and simpler regimen for my insulin injections. But I rejected the idea of giving up, and it taught me to be stronger. This positive attitude paid off when I competed in the 100m and 200m sprint events representing my country on over 25 occasions and won one silver and two bronzes at the British Universities championships.
In 2012 Diabetes UK nominated me to carry the Olympic Flame for the London 2012 Olympics as a leader in diabetes and sport. This was a phenomenal opportunity to raise the torch for diabetes and sport in front of 20,000 strong crowd and the world’s press and media.This wonderful opportunity along with my sport has opened so many doors for me, that in turn have allowed me to lead the way for others who want to get involved in sports too or just take control of their own diabetes.
After I carried the torch I began writing a blog about sport and diabetes, sharing my experiences with the diabetes online community. I was then fortunate enough to attend the IDF Europe Youth Leadership Camp in Italy, which was a great way to get involved with other youth advocates with diabetes from across Europe. After the camp, I decided to start the support group Blue Circle Diabetes, because one thing I have learned from the many people whom I have met on my sport and diabetes journey is that when people with diabetes come together to share experiences, great things happen.
One of my challenges in life was sport and diabetes. But whatever your own personal challenge is -whether it is living with diabetes, overcoming difficulties or reaching your goals- just do whatever you can to overcome it, and you will succeed eventually. As the saying goes, you never know what you are capable of until you try.
Melanie Stephenson, diabetes youth advocate and professional athlete
Read Melanie's full story here.


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Meet The Author

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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