Since 2004 millions of people have marched under the banner Taking steps to prevent diabetes and urged their friends, families, and communities to do the same.
This simple, urgent message has helped individuals and organisations raise awareness about diabetes – but this year, getting the word out is a bit more complicated.
“We cannot continue as we have over the past 15 years, yet we cannot abandon our campaign either,” says Gwendolyn Carleton, WDF’s Communication Manager. “COVID-19 is a pandemic, but so is diabetes – and a healthy lifestyle helps prevent both.”
Fortunately, WDF is hearing from organisers around the world who are taking up the challenge and organising creative, safe events to fit this very challenging year. A selection of their ideas and approaches can be found below:
A large Walk in Bangladesh in 2015. This year, small groups will walk throughout November.
Bogura Diabetic Somity is a Bangladeshi organisation that has been raising diabetes awareness since 1983.
Md. Mamun Hassan began organising Bogura Diabetic Somity's Walk by contacting the participants in last year's event. This year, in response to the pandemic, he will assign Walkers to groups of three to seven persons with different points around town. The Walks will be repeated throughout the whole month of November and the participants will wear Global Diabetes Walk T-shirts. Participants will be asked to maintain physical distance, use face masks, and hand sanitisers.
To celebrate World Diabetes Day on November 14th, Md. Hassan will hold a special event where all Walk participants will receive recognition.
Global Diabetes Walk 2019, Georgia Red Cross Society.
The Georgia Red Cross Society is implementing an extensive project in 236 villages and four district centres – and all are expected to participate in this year’s Global Diabetes Walk.
All secondary schools involved in the project will hold an educational session on diabetes prevention and the importance of healthy living with diabetes and COVID-19 organised by teachers that volunteer for the project. There’s more: groups of volunteers in uniforms will walk the streets carrying balloons and flags, distributing informational flyers to local residents and chanting the key diabetes messages.
To ensure the safety of the participants distance will be observed, and personal protective equipment introduced if needed.
The Georgia Red Cross Society has held Global Diabetes Walks since 2013, motivated by the feeling of belonging to an international campaign that helps to improve peoples’ health worldwide.
"Being Red Cross means being a member of a big network that we call family and participation in the Walk gives us the same feeling. Besides, feeling that we are part of the global initiative to attract attention to diabetes and jointly to improve global data makes us, I mean staff, volunteers, and even active beneficiaries, full of pride," says Keti Mindeli of the Georgia Red Cross Society.
In 2018, South Africa marked World Diabetes Day with Walks and other events. This year, smaller Walks will be supplemented by a photo competition.
Due to the COVID-19 situation in South Africa, Nerve Events has transformed this year's Walk into a virtual event.
Nerve Events are encouraging residents to relax, follow local regulations and preserve the tradition of Global Diabetes Walk by dressing in blue on November 14th, World Diabetes Day. Participants can walk at any time and place they wish.
There will also be a photo competition where walkers can post imaginative photos of themselves, their families, or friends to Nerve Events' Facebook page.
RAAF in Ghana is a very early organiser. The Foundation started walking on 1 August, and aim to keep it up until World Diabetes Day on November 14th - when their main Walk will take place.
RAAF’s World Diabetes Day activities are spread across two days, November 13 and 14. On Day 1, a discussion on ‘The Role of the Nurse in Diabetes Care’ and a quiz competition will take place. Day 2 will start with screening for type 2 diabetes and diabetic foot, and end with a Global Diabetes Walk. The Walk route is 8 kilometres long, ending at a local mall where nurses will be celebrated for their dedication in fighting diabetes.
Ken Kpodo of RAAF says WDF’s 2020 informational materials have been a “huge inspiration.” The 3 Steps for a Change flyer is especially useful for creating awareness about diabetes and recommending lifestyle changes to prevent it.
A large Global Diabetes Walk in 2016 organised by HelpAge Kyrgyzstan.
HelpAge Kyrgyzstan will conduct a walk for the older residents it serves, representatives of NGOs and the Ministry of Health. The variety of events planned includes a flash mob, diabetes and hypertension screening, and diabetes foot examination. In collaboration with a partner organization, DEAK, HelpAge Kyrgyzstan will hold an online conference with medical professionals on diabetes and COVID-19. A round table on diabetes issues with officials will also be held, with information and quizzes. The meeting can be moved online if the pandemic restrictions require it.
Due to COVID-19, the events are expected to have a lower than the normal number of attendees, and those who attend will need to maintain social distance and use hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves.
HelpAge Kyrgyzstan draws its inspiration from the belief that diabetes can be prevented by raising awareness, changing lifestyles, and gaining the commitment of officials to the shared cause.
"Kyrgyzstan has suffered many deaths among those with diabetes and other NCDs due to COVID-19, which made the matter of prevention even more pressing", says Nurdin Satarov, a Project Manager with HelpAge Kyrgyzstan.
- Use the tools – The Walk Toolbox contains free, useful tools and links – many brand new this year.
- Observe social distancing - Embrace social media to spread the news, organise, and encourage support. Consider hosting events online.
- Encourage and publicise participants’ creativity - Host photo competitions (using the Blue Circle App), GPS drawing challenges (check out NCD Alliance's idea), or step counting contests.
- Be creative and flexible - Make a Plan A, B, and C. Local circumstances can change quickly, and even the best-laid plans can change.
- Go easy on yourself - If the event you’re planning this year is nothing like the big Walk you wished for, that is perfectly OK. What can you do – safely – to raise diabetes awareness in your community? Start there, and then be proud of what you achieve.