From May 4-6, 2006, CWD was very pleased to participate in the 1 Congresso Nazionale, Il Sogno E Diventato Realta (The Dream Has Become Reality) in Genoa, Italy. The conference was organized by Progetto Diabete (www.progettodiabete.org), an Italian organization very similar to CWD. The conference was attended by approximately 200 people – both families and health care professionals - from all parts of Italy.
IDYAs Marissa Hitchcock, Sam Billetdeaux, and Lucas Escobar each spoke at the conference, presenting their perspectives on being teens with diabetes and being involved with the development and growth of CWD's International Diabetes Youth Ambassador program, particularly this current programming with our Italian friends and colleagues. Marissa spoke about how her experience watching her parents devote their lives to CWD has shaped her aspirations towards becoming a diabetes educator (she is studying nursing). Sam discussed how CWD and IDYA have helped him redefine the concept of community, i.e., communities are not limited by geographical borders but rather by common purpose. And Lucas talked about his family's leadership in the growth of the CWD Foundation in Colombia.
Jeff Hitchcock presented information about the entire CWD website, from the Diabetes Basics, to Insulin Pump information, to Ask the Diabetes Team. He spoke about the early days (1995) of the CWD website, which initially was created as a mechanism to help Marissa meet other kids with type 1 diabetes, and which now provides over 26,000 pages of content to people in over 150 countries around the world. The conference organizers, Progetto Diabete, actually modeled their website after CWD and have been providing much support and education to their Italian readers.
Laura Billetdeaux presented a session about the growth of CWD conferences, and how the very first gathering of 550 people in Orlando in 2000 has grown to include seven events in 2006, reaching hundreds of families in over a dozen countries. Laura discussed the growth of the IDYA program and the opportunities in the near future for Italian and American teens and families to work together in upcoming events.
On Friday evening, the IDYA program was honored in a ceremony linking the CWD program to the Italian teen program, GiaDA.
While the travel to a different country and culture is always exciting, the best part, of course, is watching the kids connect. The language differences simply don't pose a problem. A good dictionary ... lots of gestures ... plenty of laughter ... a few days of serious discussion and many good times ... and we have the basis for many wonderful friendships and lots of future learning opportunities together!
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