When Kim Vlasnik was growing up with type 1 diabetes, she often felt alone in trying to manage her disease. Yes, she had the support of family and friends, but she didn’t really know anyone else with diabetes who could share their experiences with her.
Vlasnik, a Nebraska blogger (textingmypancreas.com), has launched “You Can Do This,” a video project that she hopes will provide a community of support for people with diabetes the world over.
Vlasnik says she took inspiration from “It Gets Better,” the series of YouTube videos in which celebrities and regular folks urge gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth to look forward to adulthood despite the bullying they may be facing now. “It hit my heart in a place, seeing what kind of good it can do for that community and their struggles and challenges,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘I’m part of a community that has its own struggles and challenges, why couldn’t we do that [for diabetes]?’”
Rallying other diabetes bloggers—including Kerri Sparling (sixuntilme.com)—Vlasnik created a 4-minute video in which people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, talk about their struggles with the disease—and how they’ve overcome them.
That video and several others can be viewed on the You Can Do This YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/YouCanDoThisProject). When the project launches officially on June 15, anyone will be able to record their own video and upload it to share. Ideally, Vlasnik says, the videos will show the variety of people living with diabetes—and doing so successfully, with the support of others in person and online. “Your doctors can help and your med team can do a lot for you,” she says, “but when it comes down to it, there’s the emotional and mental side of diabetes that often doesn’t get addressed. There’s a whole community of people with diabetes out here . . . who likely have been where you have been and offer support, and an ear or eyes online,” she says.
“Everyone has experience that other people can learn from,” she adds. “You don’t have to have a perfect A1C [to contribute a video]. Just living with diabetes can be considered a success. Everyone can bring something to the table.”