Coming soon: Announcement of new initiatives to be funded by the Lawson Foundation’s Children & Youth Diabetes Funding Strategy!

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and youth. Type 1 diabetes, the main form of the disease in children, has been increasing around the world and is occurring much earlier in life. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be thought of as an adult disease, has been rising in Canada and globally in children and youth over the past two decades. Significant increases in overweight/obesity and physical inactivity are likely contributing to the growth of type 2 diabetes in children and youth. Diabetes during pregnancy, which heightens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for both the mother and the child, has also been increasing steadily. The early onset of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increases the risk for related complications, such as kidney disease, blindness and amputations. Once diagnosed with diabetes, children and youth must manage the disease throughout their lives.

Indigenous populations and certain ethno-cultural groups (African, Hispanic, Asian and South Asian) are at a disproportionately high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes has reached epidemic levels in some Indigenous communities, which have also seen higher rates of type 2 diabetes in children and gestational diabetes in women than in non-Indigenous communities. Given the significance of this health issue, the Lawson Foundation has supported, and will continue to support through its Diabetes Funding Strategy, a number of Indigenous communities across Canada in their efforts to prevent and manage diabetes and its complications.

The Lawson Foundation’s interest in supporting diabetes prevention, management and research dates back to the 1970s when the Foundation endowed the Helen and Frances Lawson Chair in Diabetes Research for the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario. In the 1990s, the Foundation supported two groundbreaking, community-based diabetes prevention projects – the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project (KSDPP) and the Latin American Diabetes Prevention Project. Inspired by the success of these initiatives and in response to growing concern around the challenges of diabetes and the potential of innovative approaches to improve diabetes prevention and management, the Foundation introduced a Canada-wide Diabetes Funding Strategy in 2001-02. Over the next 14 years, the Foundation invested $9 million  in a broad range of community-based projects located in urban centres and rural and remote areas, and that served diverse populations including children, young adults, pregnant women, Indigenous, ethno-cultural communities and individuals with severe mental health issues. The Foundation also contributed an additional $2.5 million to the Lawson Chair to ensure continued support for diabetes research.

In 2015, the Foundation renewed its overall Strategic Direction to focus its impact areas on the healthy development of children and youth. In that same year, the Foundation committed $1.2 million over five years towards the Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease in Children Network (DEVOTION), a cluster of scientists, patients, policy makers and stakeholders whose aim is to address the burden and costs associated with chronic disease in Manitoba. The Lawson Foundation’s investment supports participation of an Indigenous scholar and three Indigenous community-based research coordinators. In 2016 and in concert with the new Strategic Direction, the Foundation launched the Children & Youth Diabetes Funding Strategy to address the challenges faced by children, youth and their families with or at risk for diabetes and its complications. The Strategy’s goals are:

  • To improve health outcomes for children and youth with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing diabetes and diabetes-related complications through prevention, treatment and improved self-management.
  • To optimize the health of women with gestational diabetes or pre-existing gestational diabetes in order to help ensure the health of their offspring and families.
  • To ensure equitable access to high-quality diabetes prevention, treatment and support programs and services for all children, youth and their families.

Projects funded by the Children & Youth Diabetes Funding Strategy will emphasize moving knowledge into clinical practice and community programming and will include plans for evaluation and sharing of project results. In keeping with the Strategy’s cohort approach, grantees will also participate in the annual Diabetes Workshop, creating a community of learning to share their work with each other and other influencers in the field.

Please watch our website later in January 2017 for the announcement of the successful applicants to our Children & Youth Diabetes Funding Strategy!

Lawson Foundation - Celebrating 60 Years of Family Philanthropy

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