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The DAN in Action at Convention

by Alan Wheeler

I attended an energetic, informative, and supportive meeting of the Diabetes Action Network at the National Federation of the Blind’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

It began with the traditional reading of the minutes from the last meeting, which was followed by the treasurer’s report. Lois Williams then gave the President’s report and discussed her various accomplishments in furthering the message of the Diabetes Action Network and the positive philosophy of the NFB. She expressed the hope and desire that each of us in the national Diabetes Action Network would find ways in our various communities to raise awareness about diabetes and how people with vision loss can continue to live productive lives.

Robert Leslie Newman, chair of the NFB Writers Division, encouraged us to share our stories by writing something, no matter how small, for the Voice of the Diabetic. He reminded us of the power of hearing someone else’s story about diabetes and vision loss, and described how we could, via our stories, have a positive impact on others. Mr. Newman also said that the people on the writer’s division listserv (at NFB Net) would be willing to help any of us make our stories more readable.

Following Mr. Newman was a state-by-state roll call of people present to see how each state was represented numerically. The top three states in order of attendance were Georgia in first place, Maryland in second, and Ohio in third.

Our next speaker was Judy Sanders from the NFB senior division (formerly the National Organization of Blind Seniors), who explained that the mission of her division is to educate seniors, as well as their families and communities, so that they do not have to surrender control of their lives due to blindness.

Her presentation was followed by a time of recognition for those whose A1C was at seven or below. Many people stood up and prizes were passed out, along with cards recognizing their low A1C levels.

The first of the two main speakers was Alvieno Stinson. Mr. Stinson told us his story, and how he came to write his book, “Beyond the Barriers, Learning to Live with Kidney Failure.”

Stinson started out by discussing the theme of the Diabetes Action Network meeting, “Losing To Gain,” and how a good diet plan and exercise can improve your health and help your body absorb insulin better.

Stinson went on to read excerpts from his book. He had self-published it in 2004, and at first sold it out of his truck. Since then, he told the audience, “I have been blessed and it is now distributed worldwide.”

He wrote the book so people wouldn’t make the same mistakes he made upon learning he had kidney disease.

Glenda Summerville, CDE, was our next speaker. She discussed behavior change strategies using the acronym D-I-M-E for “Diet, involvement, Monitoring, and Education.”

Diet and Exercise (involvement) are important to weight loss, as obesity is one of the major contributing factors to diabetes, Summerville explained. Monitoring and education are equally as important. Knowledge is power, and as such, knowing your blood sugar levels, and learning as much as you can about diabetes and how to treat it will help minimize the risk of complications in the future.

To finish the meeting, elections were held for the new DAN board. The new slate of officers and board members is as follows:

Lois Williams, President
Ed Bryant, First Vice-president
Michael Freeman, Second Vice-president
Bernadette Jacobs, Secretary
Joy Stigile, Treasurer
LeAnn Mayne, Board Member
Minnie Walker, Board Member
Maria Bradford, Board Member

The meeting was a very positive, thought provoking and educational event. If you missed it this year, be sure to join us next year!