I was very excited to experience the new American Diabetes Association Volunteer Center after hearing so much about it during its development—especially its online training tool, the Learning Center. It did not disappoint, and I believe it is a huge step forward because it enables the Association to both recruit new volunteers and provide in-depth instruction so all volunteers nationwide can be on the same page.
The training can be taken on any internet-enabled computer; allowing volunteers to conduct coursework from home is a great convenience. Modules are available for Step Out®: Walk to Stop Diabetes and Tour de Cure® team captains, African American Initiatives Ambassadors, Family link parent mentors and Diabetes Camp counselors. The lessons incorporate text, video, graphics and interactive testing.
As a seasoned volunteer, I decided to delve into a topic I didn’t know much about, so I took the African American Initiatives Ambassador training. It did require a fair investment of time to complete (more than three hours), but the richness of the information made it very worthwhile. I now understand the various programs that can be conducted in our critical outreach to the African American community. The training makes it very clear what steps volunteers can take to put on highly effective presentations, and it is full of great resources, including sample PowerPoints, a glossary of terms and links to websites for more information.
The Volunteer Center’s Learning Center also includes information on diabetes and diabetes management, which is important because I suspect that many Association volunteers may not be given much information about the disease. Teaching volunteers about diabetes helps them better understand the condition and further empowers them to help others. I myself have had type 1 diabetes for 18 years, and even I learned new things through the Learning Center.
I encourage everyone who works on one of these Association programs to undergo this training. Even if you know your area well, I expect you’ll find the time well spent as a refresher. Then you can recruit newer participants to take it too. You may even see opportunities to add to the material presented.
Ultimately, this tool will allow volunteers across many American Diabetes Association programs and regions of the country to truly work in concert to Stop Diabetes®. It will help us better ingrain best practices and further focus our message about the seriousness of diabetes and the need to overcome its threat as soon as we can. I applaud the hard work that has gone into developing the Volunteer Center and hope it will be expanded very soon.
Visit the Volunteer Center today to be matched with opportunities in your area—the first step to taking the online training modules. (You must first be assigned to a role before registering for the relevant training module.)
Your involvement with the American Diabetes Association, whether on a local or national level, will help us effectively expand our community outreach and heighten awareness of diabetes. I invite you to join the millions in our movement.
San Francisco, Calif.
Member, San Francisco Leadership Board and Youth Strategies Committee
Former member, Community Volunteer Development Committee
American Diabetes Association