The power of a united community with aligned goals and shared experiences is one of the strongest bonds that exists in the universe. In the world of diabetes, we have our incredible diabetes online community, but we also have the widely overlooked and underutilized in-person communities that conferences provide.
The Diabetes UnConference, which is the genius brainchild of Christel Marchand-Aprigliano that happened for the second time a few weeks ago in Las Vegas, is a shining example of the incredible uniting power that occurs when a tribe of human beings all linked by the very real bond of sharing the lived experience of diabetes come together in one place.
I attended as “alumni” this year as I also attended the first annual UnConference last year. Having the opportunity to reunite with familiar, loving faces, and to finally get to hug people I’ve only “met” online was exhilarating. Being in a judgement free zone where we all agreed that no social media would be involved in our private sessions is a feeling that I hope everyone with diabetes gets to experience at some point in their lives. The feeling of love and acceptance in the sessions made my heart smile.
This year there were a few differences than last (all good ones!) There was the opportunity to bring a loved one so that the PLU (people who love us) could connect with one another, and also hang out with the PWD (people with diabetes) at the awesome post-session parties (yes, we had a couple of great parties!)
The other awesome addition that differed from last year were the pre-UnConference sessions that included amazing presentations from Dr. Stephen Ponder on Sugar Surfing, Moira McCarthy on fundraising, Scott Scolnick on the Bionic Pancreas, Bennet Dunlap on advocacy, and many more at no extra charge. Christel really knows how to create a memorable, valuable experience, and for that, I am grateful!
I can’t sing enough praises about the incredible, safe, warm, open environment that the UnConference provides. I also can’t urge you strongly enough to grab your tickets to the next one that is happening in Atlantic City, NJ in September, 2016! If you’ve been on the fence about coming out of your shell and getting out of the online community and into an in-person tribe, the UnConference is by far the best way to get acclimated. In fact, I’m willing to bet (haha, that’s a Vegas reference) that you will wish you’d done it sooner 🙂