Breathing Fresh Air Into Diabetes Education

10/11/15
WRITTEN BY: Jen Hanson
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I’ve lived with Type 1 diabetes for, well, almost forever. Twenty-eight years to be exact. People will often comment how it must have been so tough to have been diagnosed so early, but to be honest, this life with diabetes is the only one I know – I’ve never dwelled on what a life without diabetes would or could have looked like. Sure, things were challenging: diabetes came along for the ride as my mom sent me on my first sleepover, as I insisted on trying out of every sport my coaches would allow me to in high school, as I went to my first prom, packed my bags and practically ran to college, as I boarded my flight for my first trip abroad – but I didn’t know anything different.

I was lucky – my parents were able to send me to a summer camp for children with Type 1. It quickly became my second home and somewhere that I spent 18 consecutive summers. Here, I created bonds with people who understood me in a way that others didn’t. They were the first people I talked to when I needed advice about moving into a college dorm with strangers, when I was unsure how to make my diabetes supplies fit in my backpack when first traveling overseas, and when I needed to vent about how diabetes was kicking my butt. I was lucky. And I was grateful.

There were definitely challenges growing up with diabetes, but one of the biggest ones came when it came time to leave the camp community that had become such an important part of my life. As a young adult, leaving camp meant leaving behind the community that changed me. Perhaps the scariest part was the realization that there wasn’t anything else like camp out there.

I had outgrown summer camp, but I hadn’t outgrown the need
to be connected with people who get it.

I was sure I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way – the problem was, I had lost my outlet to even ask that question. Then I met Chloe Vance, founder and visionary behind Connected in Motion. I was enthralled by her vision to change the way things worked for people with T1D.

In 2008, seven years after being diagnosed, Chloe’s journey on her with Type 1 diabetes took an unexpected turn after being introduced to a community of Type 1s in New Zealand. Before her trip, Chloe had lived her life without a diabetes community. When she ran into a challenge, she worked hard to overcome it on her own, when she succeeded, she quietly celebrated and moved on. In fact, she had never considered that a diabetes community even existed, until she found herself smack-dab in the middle of one. Chloe was introduced to HypoActive, a group of healthy, active, young adults living with Type 1 diabetes, wheels were put into motion, and the slipstream was born.

CIM2Just as a cyclist tucks in and drafts with the peloton or a flock of geese fly in V formation, when people living with diabetes travel together, we move further, faster and are stronger. When we travel together, we can take turns breaking trail, forging paths, and providing direction; creating a slipstream for the Type 1 community to ride along in.

By taking turns in the lead, we allow for the community to explore the diverse environment that surrounds us, often pushing our own limits and stepping outside of our comfort zones – always knowing that someone has “got our back”. We also allow ourselves to take breaks, to come along for the ride, and to realize the ease at which we can cruise when surrounded by a community who has been there, done that, speaks the language, and “gets it”. The slipstream phenomenon Chloe experienced while riding with a group of HypoActive’s Type1 cyclists in New Zealand provided the literal and metaphorical foundation upon which the Connected in Motion community has been built.

CIM fills the need for engaging, age appropriate support and education for adults with Type 1. We figured if we’re going to be spending so much of our time managing this disease, why not have a little fun while we’re at it? Want to try rock climbing or yoga? Maybe head out for a day-hike, bike ride, chill on the beach or grab a drink with some friend from the community.

  • CIM hosts Day Events (we call them our Get Moving Series, Dawn Phenoms + Trail Mix ’n Mingles) in communities throughout North America.
  • Our Slipstream Programs are an opportunity for some more focused education and a chance to step to the edge of your comfort zone and try something new. These programs offer a mix of adventure programming, hands on (diabetes-themed) workshops, and sessions hosted by great guest speakers (most often, fellow T1s!)
  • When you’re ready to take things to the next level, check out CIM’s Adventure Series programs where you’ll have the chance to push yourself, explore some beautiful places, and learn how to take diabetes along on your next adventure, all while providing a great opportunity for advocacy and diabetes awareness (think canoe trips, surf camps, backpacking treks.)
  • TeamCIM events are an opportunity to get involved in team sport. Whether it’s running your first 5k race, competing in an adventure race, or heading out on a century ride, TeamCIM events encourage the Type 1 community to connect, share tips for active living, and define success on our own terms.
  • CIM also provides programming for loved ones, family, and friends of individuals living with Type 1. After all, when we think about it, they are living with diabetes, too!

CIM1At Connected in Motion, we seek to provide opportunities for individuals with Type 1 to come together to learn more about themselves and diabetes management through adventure and sport.  By working to put into practice experiential diabetes education programming throughout North America and, by doing so, breathing fresh air into diabetes education.  We hope to see you soon!

Did you know:

  • 85% of people living with Type 1 diabetes are adults. Education for people with Type 1 diabetes is often geared towards youth. Much of the diabetes education provided to adults has a Type 2 focus.
  • When we travel together, we can take turns breaking trail, forging paths, and providing direction; creating a slipstream for the Type 1 community to ride along in.
  • Adventure happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. The edge of your comfort zone is a place where great learning and growth can happen.
  • Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”. Connected in Motion teaches through experiential diabetes learning.
  • Community can help you live better with Type 1 diabetes.


Jen Hanson

Jen's early beginnings as a campfire-loving, bug-catching, mud-puddle-jumping, tree-climbing tot sparked in her a love for adventure that has been fostered and grown into a full-blown passion for everything outdoors. She has been living with diabetes almost her whole life, and when you an pin her down, operates out of Toronto, Ontario. Jen is a Registered Kinesiologist, a Certified Teacher and Adventure Guide, specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Diabetes Education. She is the Executive Director of Connected in Motion and shares her time working as an Elementary Coordinator with Children with Diabetes, a Faculty Member with the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme and an adventure guild with ALIVE Outdoors.