By Sherri Kolade
Type 1 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in U.S. youth, according to a nationwide report by JAMA.
What is being done about these numbers that are seemingly increasing in the Black community?
Through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), much is happening in the leading global Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) research and advocacy organization, which is on a mission to ensure that Black people, among others, facing this disease have all the help they need.
“As a volunteer-driven organization, JDRF relies on the support and leadership of the T1D community to help drive toward our ultimate goal of curing T1D,” said Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., JDRF chief executive officer.
In Type 1 Diabetes (or juvenile diabetes), the body is not producing insulin, and Blacks are more likely to develop diabetes than whites, according to Medical News Today. This may be due to this segment of the population facing higher barriers to pathways that could lower their chance of developing the blood glucose disease. These racial disparities revolving around diabetes are thought to be possible because of environmental, socioeconomic, physiological and genetic factors.
About 1.6 million Americans are living with T1D, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old) and 1.4 million adults (20 years old and older). 64,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to JDRF statistics.
Since 1970, JDRF International’s transformative research funding, advocacy, and community engagement programs have changed the landscape of T1D therapies, reducing the day-to-day burden of managing the disease, and, ultimately, helping people with T1D live longer healthier lives.
JDRF’s mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2.5 billion in research funding since its inception. The organization is built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. They collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D.
JDRF is hosting THE 2022“What If” Detroit Promise Ball at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6, presented by Ford, to address some of the stigmas around Type 1 Diabetes, especially in Black children.
Hosted by JDRF’s Michigan & Northern Ohio Chapter, the 37th annual Promise Ball event will feature a cocktail hour, seated dinner, live and silent auctions, a special Fund A Cure segment, and entertainment. Proceeds from the 2022 Promise Ball will support the next milestone in diabetes research, especially as JDRF is looking to help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes and its complications.
Rajoielle “Raj” Register of Grosse Pointe Shores told the Michigan Chronicle that her daughter, Blake, 14, was diagnosed in 2019 with Type 1 Diabetes, and their family of four (along with her husband and son) was impacted in a major way.
“One of the things we felt was important as a family was to really figure out what we could do to help the community and be supportive and not just receive help.”
Southfield wife and mother Amber Abu-Bakir’s daughter, Aliyah, has Type 1 Diabetes and told the Michigan Chronicle that she had been diagnosed several years earlier.
“She was very lethargic,” Abu-Bakir said, adding that she wasn’t responding properly, among other signs, so they went to the emergency room.
Once at the emergency room, her concerns were dismissed as something less serious but she kept pushing until they ran further tests and it was discovered that she had T1D.
Aliyah told the Michigan Chronicle that she can’t always have the candy or snacks she wants.
“I was a baby when diagnosed, so I have grown to know what to do when I am not with my parents and I have to treat my highs and lows,” Aliyah said.
“You have to advocate, you know,” Abu-Bakir said. “It’s no secret that in the Black community there’s been, like, medical mistrust and things like that. … Fortunately, when she was diagnosed, she had a Black female doctor who diagnosed her and who was her first pediatric endocrinologist.”
Abu-Bakir added that from wrongly having a medical professional call Child Protective Services on their family to facing racially-related challenges in this medical journey, her family has learned to weather storms and continue to advocate for Black people.
“They should know that it can be a lot sometimes, a lot of needles, sometimes pain, but you get through it,” Aliyah said.
Her family agrees.
“The whole family is on board to support her because we don’t want her to feel alone,” Abu-Bakir said.
For more information, visit jdrf.org and search “What If Detroit Promise Ball.”