Diabetes awareness was the focus of inspirational and motivational speakers at the third annual Timmins Diabetes Expo September 17 at the Timmins Inns and Suites. This year’s event featured well-known guest speakers Mairlyn Smith, a professional home economist and author who is also an alumnus of the Second City Comedy Troupe, and Ginger Kanzer-Lewis, a past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators and an international speaker on diabetes health issues.

“This Timmins Diabetes Expo gives diabetes professionals an opportunity to work together and provides an event where the public can meet with all the healthcare professionals in the community dedicated to diabetes awareness, education and support. People can learn more by visiting our new website at www.timmins-diabetes-expo.com,” said Peggy Claveau, Wabun Health Services and Committee Chair for the Timmins Diabetes Expo.

The daylong event featured presentations by Smith and Kanzer-Lewis as well as specialized workshops by Joe-Anne Chaput, RN, Victoria Order Nurses (VON), Diabetes Education Centre; Tony Feretycki, The Footman; Nathalie Guevin, VON Diabetes Education Centre; and Jonathan Zinck, a motivational speaker. An evening session for healthcare professionals was also hosted September 16 by Smith and Kanzer-Lewis.

Smith gave participants an informative and entertaining presentation titled “How to live to be 100 and still remember your name”. She highlighted information from her latest book, “Healthy Starts Here!”, including tips on healthy food choices, exercise and mental well-being.

“We need more events such as this to help others learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Education is a powerful tool in promoting this message. I was thrilled to see the turnout here because that means many people will be walking away with new information that will help them in dealing with diabetes,” said Smith, who is from British Columbia.

Kanzer-Lewis flew in from New York City to attend the event. She explained that diabetes is a growing epidemic that will affect huge global populations in the years to come. She highlighted the fact that the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) recently announced that over 360 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year and that at this rate, one person dies of complications from diabetes every seven seconds.

“We have to deal with diabetes as much as possible now because at the present rate of people developing this disease, we will not be able to cope with this situation in the future. It is important to have events such as this as it helps to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes in high-risk groups. We need to take charge now because if we don’t, our medical services will not be able to manage in the future,” said Kanzer-Lewis.

Plenty of volunteers took part in setting up and managing the one-day event, including Timmins High & Vocational School student Brett Nicholson of Matheson.

“It feels good to be here and to help out in an important event like this. I think we should all learn as much as we can about diabetes,” said Nicholson.

The expo also brought together area social and healthcare organizations to foster new and develop existing relationships in the fight against diabetes.

“It’s good to see the team work and sharing of resources to create awareness on the issue of diabetes. This cooperation of services and support is making a difference in our community,” commented expo committee member Christine Devaney, Timmins Family Health Team.

The event was a one-stop information source, which featured displays by area organizations complete with blood glucose testing. Sponsors included Northern Diabetes Health Network, Canadian Diabetes Association, Wabun Health Services, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Misiway Milopemahtesewin, Métis Nation of Ontario, Porcupine Health Unit, VON Diabetes Education Centre, Timmins Family Health Team and the Aboriginal People’s Alliance of Northern Ontario.

The event was opened and closed by the Omushkegowuk Mother Clan Singers, an all-women’s traditional drum group. Master of Ceremonies was Rob Wills, of Timmins Moose 93.1 FM Radio, who was also on hand to provide live radio coverage of the event.

A children’s program will be hosted on November 4 and will be led by the First Nation group Turtle Concepts at the McIntyre Arena in Timmins.