Diabetes Canada is an organization that works to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes. We spoke with Franca Lattanzio, Program Development Coordinator, to learn more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Diabetes Canada’s vision is a world free of the effects of diabetes. That’s why we’re working together to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes. We’re sharing knowledge and creating connections for individuals and the healthcare professionals who care for them; advocating through public policy; and funding research to improve treatments and find a cure to end diabetes.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Improving the quality of life for people with diabetes is at the heart of Diabetes Canada’s commitment to all people in Canada diagnosed with this chronic health condition. That means connecting children and youth with type 1 diabetes through Diabetes Canada’s D-Camps; providing healthcare professionals and people with diabetes with expert information that improves their care and self-management; assisting researchers working on leading-edge treatments; and advocating on behalf of those with diabetes for equity, improved access to supplies and more.
When did you start/join it?
I started volunteering with Diabetes Canada in 1993 coordinating resources in the Diabetes Information and Support Centre. I eventually became a team member in the Public Education and Services department as a full-time coordinator.
What made you want to get involved?
I wanted to be involved with an organization that made such an impact on my university friend’s life who lived with type 1 diabetes. She came from an isolated northern community in BC and during her teens, she attended Camp Kakhamela, Diabetes Canada’s D-Camps program for kids and youth living with type 1 diabetes. At home, she most likely was the only person her age living with type 1 diabetes in her school. The experiences at D-Camps helped her to recognize she was not alone and that others her age were also living with type 1 diabetes. She met close friends and healthcare professionals who helped her build a network of support and learned skills for a lifetime of managing diabetes.
What was the situation like when you started?
I started right on the verge of the information explosion and technology and saw how quickly it was impacting medicine & treatments, research and self-management for diabetes.
How has it changed since?
Technology and connectivity have changed considerably, particularly in the last few years with Covid and shifting to an online environment.
What more needs to be done?
Unfortunately, many people living with diabetes experience stigma which can negatively impact the care and management they receive. Diabetes Canada is making it a priority to “change the conversation about diabetes” – focusing on challenging the harmful myths and misconceptions that lead to the stigmatization of people living with diabetes.
How can our readers help?
Diabetes and prediabetes take a lifelong toll on 1 in every 3 people in Canada. Diabetes Canada has proposed a national diabetes strategy that will help improve millions of lives and reduce the growing burden on the healthcare system. To learn more and help propel this plan into action visit our website.
Do you have any events coming up?
We have various events happening throughout the year and are listed on our website here. We are always looking for volunteers to join us too!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society – an inclusive health services organization that continues to do great work and outreach in the Downtown Eastside (well-known for being the most marginalized postal code in Canada amongst other things.) They’re in the process of rebuilding their diabetes support and education services for those living in the community.