By Patrick Tohill, Government Relations Director at JDRF Canada
JDRF’s Kids for a Cure Lobby Day was held from October 28-30 and what an impact our youth delegates made – engaging with more than 100 Members of Parliament and senators in just two days! Wow!!
Every two years, JDRF sends youth who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to Ottawa to put a human face to the disease and help Parliamentarians understand just how challenging it can be. This year, 28 kids between the ages of 4 and 17 were selected out of 135 applicants – more than ever before!
Our 28 young lobbyists wowed everyone they met with their knowledge, communication skills, poise and charm, including some very important decision makers such as the Honourable Ginette Petitipas Taylor, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Dianne Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue. Using a scrapbook they’d put together, the delegates helped bring into focus the struggles and needs of Canadians living with T1D with the hope that government will prioritize our issues and recommendations.
It was testament to the impact of our Kids for a Cure Lobby Day when Pam Goldsmith-Jones, the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus Chair, MP for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea-to-Sky Country, rose to acknowledge our youth delegates in the gallery during Members’ Statements, and sparked off a standing ovation from both sides of the House.
This not only speaks to the success of our lobbying effort, the influence of our champions in Parliament and, our degree of alignment with our federal political parties, but also most of all it speaks to just how powerful it is to put children living with diabetes in front of Canada’s decision-makers and simply let them share their stories.
Naturally, it is not just about telling stories, but also about garnering support. Every MP or senator we met with was asked to do two things: 1) join the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus and 2) write a letter to the Minister of Finance in support of the five recommendations in JDRF’s 2019 Pre-Budget Submissions.
But stories do matter! Your stories matter! Thinking about the impact that just 28 kids can have, can you imagine if it were hundreds? And we need the voices of adults living with diabetes to be heard, too! Why not take a few minutes and reach out to your local Member of Parliament to request a meeting the next time he/she is in your riding. We have Advocacy resources available and would be happy to assist you.
A huge THANK YOU to all 28 Kids for a Cure youth delegates! We are extremely fortunate to have assembled such a well-spoken, persuasive group of advocates. Thanks to the parents as well, for supporting them in their activism. Your efforts and those of your children will have a real and lasting impact on our government relations program.