Newswise — At the start of the semester, sophomore Emily Hooven wondered how she would tackle this year's assignment for one of her general education courses, Guerrilla Altruism.
The charge: take on the food industry and all of its problems by combining the improvisational techniques of guerilla warfare with the humanitarian spirit of altruism.
Drawing on her own struggles with type 1 diabetes, with which she was diagnosed at 10 years old, she decided to focus on type 2 diabetes, the risk of which can be heightened by a poor diet.
Hooven decided to put her major in Film and Media Arts to work and along with classmates Tom Simon, a sophomore, and Matthew Law-Phipps, a freshman, started a YouTube channel called Diabetes Diaries. Designed for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, the channel features short, man-on-the-street videos from people who share stories about their struggles or their family member's struggles with diabetes.
“I noticed when interviewing people on the street that most of them mentioned a kind of secrecy among the diabetics they knew,” said Hooven. “They said that most of them didn’t really talk about their struggles with the disease and they went to the bathroom to test their blood sugar or give themselves insulin. Our hope is that Diabetes Diaries will provide a kind of release for them, that they can come out with their true thoughts and feelings about the disease via the video.”
Hooven also hopes that Diabetes Diaries will raise awareness of the disease, and will help humanize some of the staggering statistics surrounding diabetes.
“In the beginning of the class I worked a lot with statistics: ‘1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early- onset diabetes,’ or ‘the ratio is 1 in 2 for minorities,’” she said. “While these figures are compelling, they are nameless and faceless. Hopefully the videos will make the seriousness of diabetes more real.”
Moving past her man-on-the-street tactic, Hooven invites other diabetics or friends and family members of diabetics to contribute their own videos, at http://www.youtube.com/user/DiabetesDiaries.
“In some cases, diabetes is completely avoidable, and maybe these videos will contribute to the sharing of knowledge and information. I intend for Diabetes Diaries to go on long after this class has ended,” she said.