Canada in mid-winter? Three hours north of Toronto where the predicted high temperatures barely made it above single digits? Am I crazy? Why not! Connected in Motion, a nonprofit group based out of Canada, invited me to come and present about Glu and share my adult type 1 experience during their annual Winter Slipstream Weekend.
It was a weekend where adults from all over Ontario came together to learn laugh and love themselves and each other, just a little more while living with type 1. I had the chance to interview Jen Hanson, the Executive Director of Connected in Motion, to learn a little bit more.
1. What is Connected in Motion?
JH: Connected in Motion (CIM) is an active community of young adults and adults who live or want to live life with diabetes, without limits. CIM uses outdoor adventure and physical activity as a forum for experiential diabetes education. Connected in Motion’s Slipstream Weekends are a chance to connect (or reconnect) with like-minded members of the active diabetes community, to share tips and tricks, and to learn from one another’s experiences. The weekends integrate outdoor adventure activities with experiential learning workshops and aim to provide opportunities for each person to step to the edge of their comfort zone in terms of diabetes management, physical activity, and outdoor adventure. Connected in Motion also facilitates outdoor adventure experiences that we describe as the “next step” after a Slipstream weekend. When you’re ready to push yourself just a little bit further, we’ll be ready to help with canoe trips (anywhere from a weekend to a week), backpacking expeditions, and climbing trips, to name a few!
2. Why did you decide to get involved in this organization?
JH: I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was three years old. My family members were always active outdoor enthusiasts—I have been camping since before I could walk! When I turned eight, it just seemed natural that I head off to summer camp! I spent eight summers as a camper and another ten as a staff member at Camp Huronda, the local camp for children with type 1 diabetes. Camp has a major impact on my life—it is where I learned independence, gained ownership over my diabetes, and started to see diabetes as something that provided me with opportunity, not something that held me back. When it came time for me to leave camp, I was scared. I was scared to leave the diabetes community that had fostered my love for outdoor adventure and supported me and my life with diabetes over the past 18 years. It seemed that there was nothing like what camp had offered for young adults and adults with diabetes out there (in Canada, at least!)
As things would have it, though, Connected in Motion was born a mere few months after I left Camp. Chloe Vance, diagnosed with diabetes at 18, had never experienced diabetes community––at all. I had experienced it and was desperate not to lose it. Chloe founded Connected in Motion in 2008, I began volunteering with the organization a few months later, and I’ve never looked back! I’ve been so lucky to have been involved in the development and evolution of the organization since its very outset.
3. What has been the biggest benefit (you think) for people that have participated in events?
JH: I think that one of the biggest benefits for the community has been the ability to connect the lessons learned in the offices of our healthcare professionals with real-life experiences. It is so easy to listen to “what we are supposed to do,” smile, nod, and understand what we need to do to live healthier, more active lives, but the actual integration of those lessons into our lives can be challenging. There is little support or opportunity for these experiences outside of the clinics and hospitals. CIM events and programs bring together a community of individuals who are there to support each other and push each other to take a step (or a giant leap!) forward in terms of diabetes management, outdoor adventure, and/or physical activity. By creating an environment that is genuinely supportive and caring and one that feels safe, individuals are able to entertain the idea of trying something new, pushing themselves a little bit further, getting outside of their comfort zones—the learning and growth that happens in these situations is unparalleled.
Plus we get to have a whole lot of fun. As adults. That’s awesome, too!
4. What advice do you have for those who may be a bit shy or struggling to find time to get involved? How can people get involved?
JH: I definitely understand that it is a leap for a lot of people to come out to something like what Connected in Motion offers. For a lot of people, committing to coming out to a Slipstream at all is far outside of their comfort zone. But believe me, you won’t regret it!
The CIM team works really hard to make sure that there is a space for everyone at Slipstream Weekends and as part of the diabetes community. No matter your past experiences, athletic ability, level of interest in outdoor adventure, or engagement with your diabetes, there is a place for you in the community. One of the wonderful parts of the CIM community is that you’ll feel welcomed and find your space, no matter whether you’re an ironman athlete or a first-time 5Ker, have summited mountains or are happy just looking at them (although, we’re probably going to convince you to take at least a few first steps up!)
If you are nervous or new to the active diabetes community, definitely consider coming out to a Slipstream Weekend. You’ll meet lots of people like you, as well as active diabetes veterans eager to share their experiences and ideas. In fact, you’ll likely be sharing just as many stories, tips, and tricks as you are gaining from others!
5. Are there ways for people to get involved in the US?
JH: Most definitely! Connected in Motion, in partnership with Riding on Insulin and Insulindependence, piloted its first Slipstream in the United States (Pacific Northwest Slipstream) last September and we are so excited to expand the programming to more places moving forward! We are currently checking out locations that might suit a Slipstream Weekend. We are always open to ideas—we want to support the diabetes community that is out there and help to build it stronger! We’d love for folks to get in touch with ideas for locations, venues, activities. Email me anytime (jen@connectedinmotion).
The most sure-fire way not to miss out on what CIM is up to is to sign up for our newsletter. You’ll receive updates on events, programs, and happenings in the type 1 community once a month. You can sign up here!
Thank you, Jen, for your time. It was great to attend the Winter Slipstream weekend!