Last week, I received an email informing me that the weekly #OzDOC tweet chats would be coming to a close. Obviously, I thought of it as a sad announcement, but what a fantastic five years and five months of weekly conversations and support!

It takes a lot of dedication to run a diabetes support group, and the regular tweet chat format of #OzDOC meant that it was a once-a-week commitment, requiring a roster of interesting and engaging topics, and someone to direct the conversation and make sure that there was someone welcoming anyone who wanted to participate each and every week.

It takes work, time and effort, and, in most cases, support groups are run by volunteers who already have jobs and busy lives and families. The support group administration and activities are run in someone’s own time.

But despite what it takes – the planning, the commitment and the energy – there has been someone there since the beginning, taking responsibility to make sure that the #OzDOC tweet chat bus kept going. And that person is Kim Henshaw.

Kim talking #OzDOC at last year’s #MayoInOz meeting.

When the #OzDOC tweet chats started, there were three of us involved: Kim, Simon and me. We took it in turns each week to moderate the chat, come up with the questions and run ideas by each other. But circumstances change, and first I, then Simon needed to step back from being part of the moderating team.

Kim stayed on and has been the one responsible for herding the #OzDOC kittens and creating a safe, fun, supportive, reassuring online space for people in the Australian diabetes community to come together on Twitter each week. With a team of moderators, the chats continued.

Kim’s commitment to #OzDOC could never be questioned. In the very first tweet chat, back in July 2012, she was sent to Twitter jail for tweeting and retweeting too many times in the hour! She wanted to share as widely as she could, acknowledge as many comments from others as possible and encourage conversation at every turn. Until she was cut off from Twitter:

Oops…

Kim never wavered from her pledge to build and support the community. I shared the power of #OzDOC every chance I had – any time I was speaking about diabetes peer support, #OzDOC got a mention; I’ve written about it here over and over and over again. And I defended online channels and Twitter as a support platform, using #OzDOC as an example of just how a community could be developed.

But times change, and with Kim stepping aside and no one else available to take on the coordination of the group, next week will be the final time that the @OzDiabetesOC account is used for the #OzDOC hour of power.

I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in the OzDOC tweet chats for the last (almost) five and a half years. I have met some incredible people through the chats, made some wonderful friends and learnt so, so much.

And mostly, I wanted to say thank you to Kim for delicately, dedicatedly and devotedly running the group. What a wonderful thing you created, Kim. Well done! Enjoy your quiet Tuesday nights – you deserve it!

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