All across the country, JDRF is ramping up for one of the biggest advocacy events in Washington, D.C. That’s right, it’s time again for Children’s Congress—three days when kids and teens from every state and around the world converge on Capitol Hill to represent the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community and urge Congress to continue funding the crucial research that will produce better treatments and a cure for T1D.
This year’s 161 delegates will take Washington by storm July 8 to 10, but we can’t wait that long to share our excitement with you! So today, we introduce the first-ever Delegates’ Blog! Every week between now and Children’s Congress, we’ll post another entry by one of our five intrepid young bloggers. These kids are front-and-center in JDRF’s fight to create a world without T1D. They have a lot to say—and we want you to hear it!
By Jonathan Platt
Hello my name is Jonathan Platt. I live in Tarzana, CA. I am nine years old and in the third grade. I love Legos, basketball, and school. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of six in kindergarten. It’s kind of annoying because when I got diagnosed three years ago, I thought I would be cured by now. I am the only kid at my school with T1D.
I remember when I was chosen to be a Children’s Congress delegate in 2011. I was excited to go to Washington, D.C., because I had never been to that city before. I was looking forward to (and a little nervous about) meeting other kids with T1D and testifying in front of Congress.
I loved meeting all the kids. I felt really comfortable when I saw there were way more people with T1D, not just me. Swimming at the hotel was a lot of fun because I met a lot of friends in the pool. I liked the song rehearsal and performance because I got to meet Crystal Bowersox. She is a really famous singer who has T1D too—that was cool. Seeing all the celebrities who had accomplished a lot and still had T1D themselves made me feel like I can do anything. I really want to be an NBA player, and I saw I can be one even though I have T1D.
The day we held our meetings on Capitol Hill was amazing. Walking through the halls of Congress, I thought I might not ever get this chance again, and I was so glad for the opportunity. I got to meet my congressman’s legislative assistant, Matthew Connolly, for my meeting. Mr. Connolly was really nice. I felt like he understood my disease, and he loved the scrapbook I made. I wish I could see him again.
I knew that I was going to testify later that day, and I was nervous. I thought, “what if I mess up, what if I say the wrong words?” After, when everyone clapped, I felt like I did a good job, except when I did not pronounce “suburb” correctly. I understood that it was a big deal to speak to Congress and to ask them to keep funding research so someday there will be a cure.
For the 2013 delegates, I would recommend that you get to know all the other kids. Some kids may have had T1D longer, and they might know a lot more stuff. Really listen to the celebrities, because you can learn a lot from how they were able to succeed even with T1D. Try not to get too excited and crazy around the celebrities—but if you are low then it’s ok.
I am looking forward to Children’s Congress in July as the chair kid. I will get to meet all the new kids and be a part of this great event with them again. It’s like being a delegate, but my family is helping to run the whole thing. I am sad that my mom won’t be there because she is having my twin brothers. My dad and I and the co-chair are going to do a great job. I can’t wait to see the new kids chosen to testify for the Senate hearing and hear about their experience. I will know exactly how they felt, because I did it two years ago. Seeing the new celebrities talking about T1D will be cool too.
I hope to be a role model for some of the little kids. If your child is reading this—don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights. What I really want to show them is that if you want to be a famous ballerina or basketball player, you can be one! Don’t be embarrassed; you are still a normal person but with a really hard disease to live with. A very, very hard disease.
Thank you for reading my blog!