13-year-old taking on the world to end diabetes stigma 14 July 2021 My name is Jack Henderson and I’m an eleven-year-old from Melbourne. I enjoy playing volleyball, watching AFL, and riding my bike, I also live with type 1 diabetes. I’ve been living with diabetes for seven years. My condition doesn’t define me, and I won’t let the way other people’s opinion of my condition change the way I live. I have started to call out things that are wrong. Once, I heard some radio announcers joking about diabetes. I never hear them joke about cancer, but they thought it was okay to tell jokes about diabetes. It was not okay. So, my mum and I emailed and eventually spoke to the radio station to let them know how it makes people with diabetes feel when they joke about our condition. I still wasn’t taken seriously. I also wrote to an author who had made some negative comments about diabetes in a book. The author said sorry and promised to take out the line in future prints. Living with diabetes is not a joke. When I was diagnosed at five, I was afraid and didn’t know what was going on or why it was happening to me. My life changed that day and I was angry and worried for a long time. I was the only kid at school who was living with diabetes, so I stood out. But the teachers helped, so did my friends who all learnt about my condition. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what was going on around me and I decided to do something about stopping the judgement. I now let people know if they make comments or jokes that hurt my feelings. I want them to know that I didn’t choose to have diabetes, I didn’t eat badly or not exercise, I was just unlucky. I shouldn’t have to hide when I need to do a finger pricks or needle. I used to, but not anymore. I have also met some amazing people who have supported me. The RCH, Diabetes Australia, JDRF, The Danii Foundation and Kids Diabetes Camps have all helped me meet other kids with diabetes. Since I was diagnosed, I have taken part in the JDRF One Walk every year to raise funds and awareness. I have also received a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which has made treating my diabetes and monitoring my levels more manageable. My brother, is also a part of the Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity Study (ENDIA) which finds out what causes type 1 diabetes so it can be prevented. Hopefully this will help find the cause or a cure one day. I hope that this National Diabetes Week encourages more of us to speak up, if you hear something that is going to hurt someone’s feelings then let people know it is not okay. Educate them. Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander and shut the comments down! We don’t want sympathy, we want support.