Kim Vlasnik is inspirational, full of enthusiasm, and an amazing diabetes advocate! I got to know her initially through the cartoons she drew for Diabetes Mine, but grew to realize the amazing work she has been doing with the You Can Do This Project. Kim agreed to share the vision behind the You Can Do This Project and her work as a cartoonist with “Caught Blue Handed”. “Caught Blue Handed” is a way for me to highlight individuals, organizations, and advocacy campaigns that promote diabetes awareness.
Tell me a little about yourself. What do you like to do?
I’m a 32 year-old who lives in Nebraska with her husband and dog, and I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 25 years. I work a full-time gig as well as spending time as a diabetes advocate, blogger and cartoonist. I’m currently rediscovering my love for early 90’s dance steps as I work my way through Dance Central 2 on XBox Kinect (Montell Jordan, anyone?).
Why do you use social media to talk about diabetes?
Until recently, I didn’t know anyone else with type 1 who lived near me. Social media helps you find what you need, when you need it – it’s there any time of day or night, and you can always find someone who is in the same situation you are. Talking about diabetes online,
and in real time, can help relieve that feeling of isolation that living with diabetes can sometimes bring. You get to talk with people who really “get it”.
What is the You Can Do This Project?
The You Can Do This Project is a community of user-created videos where people with diabetes share their stories. It’s centered around the idea that living with diabetes can be really hard and challenging, and a lot can “come along for the ride” – depression, diabulimia, high A1Cs, complications – but that we can find strength in knowing that we aren’t alone in traveling those roads. We can support each other’s emotional and psychosocial health by saying “Yeah, this is hard for me too – and I’m right here, living it alongside you”. There have also been great videos from people who have accomplished some pretty miraculous things – Ironman triathlons and Olympic cross-country skiing, for example – and they’re showing others that diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from pursing what you want out of life.
What do you hope to accomplish?
The ultimate goal is that people with diabetes get connected with each other and have conversations about the parts of diabetes that generally don’t get talked about. Peer-to-peer encouragement can help everyone with diabetes feel just a bit less alone. Every time one of the You Can Do This videos does that for someone, our diabetes community grows a little stronger.
How can people get involved?
The process is relatively simple – record a video, upload it somewhere it can be publicly viewed, and let me know about it. People can find out more about the project and see some of the contributions already made at www.youcandothisproject.com, and can find people familiar with the project on Twitter by using hashtags like #YouCanDoThis and #YouCanDoThisProject.
You are a frequent guest cartoonist for the Diabetes Mine Sunday Funnies. Tell me a little bit about that.
I’ve been contributing diabetes-themed cartoons once a month to Diabetes Mine since last fall. I had been drawing (longer, more elaborate) cartoons for my own site for a few months, and it happened that DMine had been looking for guest cartoonists. Humor has been a great way for me personally to deal with my own diabetes ups and downs, and I love sharing that. I mean, really. What good in an incurable disease if you can’t laugh about it?
Thank you Kim Vlasnik and the You Can Do This Project, you have officially been
Caught Blue Handed!