Empowering people living with diabetes to create change 13 October 2023 Life for a Child has recently launched Changemaker Projects, a scheme aimed at supporting individuals impacted by type 1 diabetes to develop high-impact community advocacy initiatives of their choosing. Emma Klatman, Global Policy & Advocacy Manager at Life for a Child, spoke to us about the program, what it means to her personally, and how the projects are making a difference to diabetes communities globally. Emma, who recently marked living with diabetes for 25 years, is proud and emotional when speaking of the journey that led to the announcement of Life for a Child’s Changemaker Projects. “Life for a Child’s advocacy ethos has always been underpinned by one central theme – meeting advocates, both present and emerging, where they are at – honouring their culture and language, respecting that advocacy is tough work, often unrecognised, and even more often an unpaid commitment supplementary to a day-job. “Our work in co-designing, co-implementing, and co-marketing the African and Latin American diabetes human rights workshops was done in close consultation with the community and meaningfully engaged participants by sharing lessons, challenges, and demystifying how to use human rights approaches for access to diabetes care. Such approaches were all made available in local languages.” The Changemaker Projects are focused on strengthening the diabetes advocacy infrastructure in the countries that Life for a Child support in Africa and Latin America by taking a human-centred approach, starting with people. Emma believes people living with diabetes are often the best agents for change given their expertise, experience, resilience, and exceptional problem-solving skills. Life for a Child expects to support community-based projects including access to care fact-finding projects, parental support groups, filmmaking to increase population awareness of type 1 diabetes, and more. Emma notes that the Changemaker Projects mean much more to Life for a Child than altruism for altruism’s sake. The Projects are about meaningfully engaging individuals who are capable of leading their communities towards more equitable access to care and reducing stigma for those living with type 1 diabetes. Each Changemaker will be matched with a senior-level, regionally-relevant, advocacy professional to help guide the successful implementation of their projects and ensure the greatest community impact. “Meaningful engagement here will also see Life for a Child facilitate connections between selected Changemakers and national health care professionals within country to increase their legitimacy and recognition as an expert. Our final prong of meaningful engagement will foster sustainability by working with Life for a Child’s well-connected global diabetes network to provide additional platforms for their advocacy. “Diabetes advocacy comes in many forms and looks different everywhere. It has a special power to break down barriers, generate knowledge, increase equity, and make long-lasting change for communities.” Life for a Child will announce the selected Changemakers on 14 November 2023, World Diabetes Day, and start the work to strengthen type 1 diabetes advocacy systems in six Life for a Child supported countries in Africa and Latin America. Diabetes Australia is committed to advocating for all people living with diabetes in Australia, and also globally through its Life for a Child program, which receives support from a network of international foundations, companies, NGOs, and individual donors. Currently Life for a Child provides life-saving insulin, blood glucose monitoring supplies, educational resources and advocacy to more than 46,000 children and young people living with diabetes across 45 countries.