My last post introduced JDRF's Children's Congress, a biannual event that brings kids with Type 1 diabetes together in Washington, D.C. to speak to government representatives (including the President) about life with diabetes and the need for a cure.
On Monday, July 12, 2010, applications for the 2011 Children's Congress (CC11) became available online. Here is the link to the 2011 Children's Congress application.
If you're not yet halfway through filling out the app (seriously, go for it!), let me explain why you should apply.
For each Children's Congress, about 1500 kids apply for spots as delegates and approximately 150 of them are selected. Delegates and their families travel to D.C. for the event with travel and hotel expenses paid by JDRF.
This event gets a lot of coverage in the press. CC delegates are often interviewed by their local newspapers and tv stations before and after the event, and have many chances to speak to reporters while on-site in D.C. According to the JDRF CC website, "Media coverage of the event--an integral key to its success--has grown with the event's sophistication. In 2009, it received coverage in more than 300 media outlets throughout the country, including CBS' The Early Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News Channel, Associated Press, NBC News, and Scholastic Magazine."
It's a great opportunity to learn firsthand about how the U.S. Government works. Any trip to the nation's capital is good for a civics lesson, of course - but spending your time walking the halls of the Capitol, shuttling back and forth between members' offices in the Senate and the House, and attending (or testifying at) a Senate hearing will truly enhance your perspective.
You can meet celebrities with diabetes. CC09 delegates got to hang out with Nick Jonas. In 2005, Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. was there. When I attended Children's Congress in 2003, I met Mary Tyler Moore and posed for pictures with Sugar Ray Leonard.
The number one reason to become a CC delegate? Getting the chance to speak on behalf of the 23 million people with diabetes in the whole country. Being a voice for such a large and important group is not only empowering, it's just plain awesome.
After attending Children's Congress, most delegates have made friends for life and continue diabetes advocacy in their communities. I still keep in touch with the other kids I met at CC03, and since 2003, I have spoken at press conferences on behalf of JDRF, gone to more meetings with policymakers in D.C., raised money for research, and started writing for Diabeteens. Now, I get to work with some of the organizers behind Children's Congress as an intern for JDRF's Government Relations office, aka JDRF Advocacy.