What a year it’s been for Sweet Life! Here are a few of our Sweet Life 2023 highlights.
Diabetes stock photo shoot
We started the year off with a bang, organising South Africa’s (and possibly the world’s?) first diabetes stock photo shoot. All our models were people living with diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, male, female, young, old, different races and body types and gender identities.
We spent a very busy day with professional photographer Mike Rose taking photos of all the things people with diabetes do – checking blood glucose, taking medication and insulin, cooking healthy food, eating healthy food, working, thinking, chatting to friends, exercising. You know, all the things we do every day on top of diabetes.
The result is this beautiful photo library on Unsplash – free to use by anyone, anywhere. Positive, healthy images of people with diabetes so that we can start changing the way people with diabetes are seen in the media, and nationwide.
The response has been astounding: the images have been viewed more than 5 million times since we uploaded them!
#LanguageMatters South Africa
Another one of our Sweet Life 2023 highlights was launching #LanguageMatters South Africa. The photo shoot was part of a broader campaign about the language and imagery used when speaking about people with diabetes, and we focused on both the media and healthcare. #LanguageMatters is an international movement, and we are proud to have led the South African collaboration of all the diabetes organisations supporting this essential move. Find out all about it – and read our position statement – at https://sweetlife.org.za/languagematters/
Lived experience representation at SEMDSA Congress
Another one of our highlights was the chance to represent people with diabetes – the lived experience perspective – at the SEMDSA Congress in Joburg this year. This conference brings together diabetes specialists from all over the country, and we were able to not only have a stand but also share the stage with Dr Partha Kar from the UK to speak about the power of using the right language when working with people with diabetes.
Top 3 finalists at DCB Innovation Challenge, Switzerland
We were absolutely thrilled and honoured to be selected as a Top 3 finalist for the DCB Innovation Challenge for Africa Diabetes Chat, our WhatsApp diabetes education chatbot solution. (Read more about it here!)
We were flown to Switzerland for an incredible week of bootcamp in the Swiss Alps, where we learned so much from the mentors and experts from Diabetes Centre Berne.
And then Bridget pitched at the DCB Innovation Challenge finals! What an experience… An audience full of people interested in diabetes innovation, a panel of expert judges, some amazing competitors. While we didn’t win first place, we were awarded a Top Innovator prize of $20,000, and the experience of being in Switzerland with so many diabetes experts was priceless. Diabetes Centre Berne have offered to do a crowd-funding campaign for us in early 2024, and we have so many ideas for Africa Diabetes Chat that we’re confident it will become a reality next year.
#WearBlueforDiabetes & Know the 5
And then it was straight back to South Africa for World Diabetes Day and our most successful #WearBlueforDiabetes campaign yet! Find out all about it here. This year we added three other voices to the campaign, which was hugely impactful, and also introduced the 5 Symptoms Challenge to schools nationwide. Schools from across the country shared the symptoms of diabetes in innovative ways as part of this exciting competition, and we were blown away by the entries. Take a look here!
A year full of highlights
It has been a wonderful year for Sweet Life – full of excitement and impact and hard work. We’re now very ready for a well-deserved break, and already excited about what 2024 has in store for us!
Thank you, as always, for being part of our community of South Africans with Diabetes. We are all in this together.
What to read next?
#WearBlueforDiabetes & Know the 5: South Africa needs a mass diabetes awareness drive. If we can lay the basic foundation this year, we can build on it in future years.
Beyond the 5 symptoms of diabetes: But what if you want to go beyond the 5 symptoms of diabetes, and understand your condition more? We’ve partnered with Sanofi to bring you all you need to know.
All the World Diabetes Day events in SA 2023: November is National Diabetes Month, and the 14th November is World Diabetes Day. Here is all the events that were on offer for people living with diabetes.