Clare Rosenfeld Evans: Studying Health Inequalities
Clare Rosenfeld Evans, who has lived with type 1 diabetes since age 7, sparked the idea for the National Youth Advocate program when she was 12. She believed that children and teens with diabetes deserved to have a greater platform to share their personal stories.
“I loved the idea that rather than being victims afflicted by something out of our control, we were actually advocates who could create something meaningful and positive in our lives and in society,” says Evans, who became the first National Youth Advocate at age 13.
At the end of her term as the first National Youth Advocate, Evans told Diabetes Forecast, “Retire?! I’m only 14 and I’ve only just begun!” America was only her first stop. She became a member of an International Diabetes Federation group focused on diabetes education and care. During her summer vacation between high school and college, Evans visited El Salvador, Tanzania, and Bangladesh to report on the conditions of people with diabetes living in third world countries.
While attending Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Evans helped create the Unite for Diabetes campaign and advocated on behalf of the International Diabetes Federation for the passage of United Nations Resolution 61/225. TheUN resolution was passed in December 2006 and formally declared November 14 World Diabetes Day. It also helped the international community recognize diabetes as a serious global epidemic.
Now 28 and married, Evans is finishing her doctorate in social epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Evans hopes to become a researcher and professor. She is focusing on health inequalities and how to address them. She’s studying how neighborhoods, schools, and social networks shape the childhood obesity epidemic and how they might be harnessed to help address the issue.
“Ever since I was very young, I have loved science,” Evans says. “The only real question about my future was what type of scientist I would become. For a long time I thought I’d go into marine biology, but the incredible experiences I had as an advocate for people with diabetes inspired in me a passion for public health.”
Evans hopes children and young adults understand their unique potential for creating change and continue to stay actively involved in raising awareness about diabetes. “I remember when I was first diagnosed at age 7 that the idea of children or teens getting involved in any meaningful way was somewhat unheard of,” she says. “Today, most youth with diabetes have grown up knowing that there is a place at the table for them and that their voices can make a difference.”
There are many ways to get involved with the American Diabetes Association. The first stop: diabetes.org/volunteer. Sign up so your local office can contact you about the full range of volunteer activities.