Jan 5, 2022

Making connections: Medtronic partnership grows out of early encounter with organization’s founder

As an adult, Chloe Vance was flying solo with her diabetes—celebrating the successes alone and navigating the challenges by herself. By 2008, she knew she wanted to create a diabetes community...

As an adult, Chloe Vance was flying solo with her diabetes—celebrating the successes alone and navigating the challenges by herself. By 2008, she knew she wanted to create a diabetes community filled with like-minded people who would support, inspire and learn from each other. So, with a little convincing, she decided to organize an outdoor weekend in Haliburton, Ont., for those living with Type 1 diabetes. She started by taping posters to lampposts in Toronto, where she lived. Vance soon found she wasn’t alone after all—25 people signed up for the weekend.

Meanwhile, Vance was introduced to Meg Archibald, who also lives with Type 1 diabetes and was then working at Medtronic. The connection seemed meant to be: after hearing Vance’s story, Archibald helped arrange for Medtronic to provide funding for the weekend retreat. So in 2009, the first “Slipstream” weekend took place and Connected in Motion (CIM) was born.

Credit: Mike Last

“Medtronic was our very first partner in 2009, the catalyst that helped get that very first group of people together,” said Jen Hanson, Executive Director of CIM. “Since then, over the years, we’ve had relationships with different Medtronic teams—regional, national, and global.”

Education, sport and adventure
CIM brings together people living with Type 1 diabetes and creates a culture of support and encouragement for diabetes self-management through peer-based education, sport, and outdoor adventure. The programs equip adults living with Type 1 diabetes with the tools and skills necessary to take part in recreation-based pursuits that encourage healthy living and greater physical activity.

Named after the concept of being gently pulled forward by the momentum of others, CIM’s signature “Slipstream” retreats are active, social and educational weekends for adults living with Type 1 diabetes. These retreats might include swimming, canoeing, skating, snowshoeing, cooking challenges, presentations, socializing, relaxation and campfires. A second category of programs are backcountry canoe or hiking trips, which focus more on outdoor adventure and less on the educational component.

“How to survive outside with your diabetes is built into all these programs,” said Hanson.

Credit: Mike Last

 According to Hanson, backcountry or off-the-grid trips are meant to help break down barriers for those living with Type 1 diabetes.  

“A lot of people would never consider doing something like that because of all of the ‘what- ifs.’ But many of those ‘what ifs’ are erased when there are 14 other people who also have diabetes and are also tackling similar problems. It’s cool to see those barriers decreased so that people can do more outside with less fear and more confidence,” said Hanson.

Expansion in 2014
Initially, these weekend retreats were happening mostly in Ontario. But, in 2014, a grant from Medtronic helped support the organization’s expansion to serve more adults across Canada.

“We received an unrestricted grant – for educational programming in diabetes. That relieved a lot of stress and helped us to expand, to move out of just Ontario and reach more people,” said Hanson, noting that there are now programs in the United States as well.

Along with its in-person programming, CIM now offers a roster of virtual events, such as its four-day  virtual Slipstream with over 70 educational sessions, which are then turned into blogs or educational resources on the website.

“The benefit of working with a partner like Medtronic is we don’t need to pass the operational costs of hosting a program onto participants. For adults living with diabetes, there are already a lot of out-of-pocket costs,” she said, “so this really makes a difference in enabling the community.”

“Truly we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t connected with Medtronic back in 2009.”

Learn more at medtronicdiabetes.ca