Just after he turned sixteen, Noah Moore got type 1 diabetes for Christmas. It didn’t seem like a gift at the time, but it sent himon a journey of creative diabetes advocacy that has made his life into a gift to us all.
Almost immediately after his diagnosis, Noah beat his fear of public speaking to become a youth advocate for the ADA. He followed that with self-sponsored trips around South America and China to visit diabetes clinics, learning about what it means to have diabetes incountries where two people own pumps and the rest have to scroungeto buy insulin and test strips. And while he traveled, he learnedhow to use the street circus subculture to showcase his mission of diabetes advocacy.
Noah is a performance artist who uses the theatrical traditions ofvaudeville to draw people to his powerful messages about living withdiabetes. He and his brother have developed a compelling circus showof acrobatics, fire juggling, and multi-cultural street art, usingthe tricks of those trades as metaphors for the elements ofsuccessful diabetes management. With their various juggling acts,they bring home their lessons about creativity, uniqueness, balance,focus, and failure when it comes to diabetes management.
Noah says, “We use the performance as a microphone to get the attention of audiences, and then we are able to relate simple tangible messages to all age groups.” For example, “During the fireact, we talk about focusing all of your attention on the task at hand, whether it’s managing diabetes or doing your homework.” Intertwined with an extremely difficult technical juggling act isthe message of balance, in diabetes and in life. The message of failure, based upon dropping juggling balls, is that “if you’re not dropping anything, you’re not learning; you’re not pushing yourselfto a level where mistakes are made. We’re not perfect; that’s what Iremind the audience with that act: It wasn’t easy for anybody who’sbeen diagnosed, and you have to learn and grow.”
And the final message is about focusing on the right now, the present moment, “because you can’t be worrying about what yourcontrol has been in the past or what people say could happen to youin the future. The only time you can make changes is right now.”That’s the guiding philosophy of the whole show and the underlyingprinciple behind the official name of the brothers’ act: TheInstruments of the Now.
This summer Noah and his brother are bringing their show to diabetes camps, which “is more gratifying than any other type of performance.” So far, they’ve been to about sixteen camps, where they do their show for the kids and then spend the next day showing the children how to make their own juggling balls, teaching them basic tricks, and then helping them invent their own tricks.
Noah is especially proud of the fact that they have received standing ovations from the children. He says that after theirperformances, the campers are full of excitement, sitting on their camp beds and talking about how they can apply the messages to their own lives. “Not in my wildest dreams,” he says, “did I think that they would be actively talking about that.”
There is no cost to the camps, which are run almost exclusively by volunteers, so Noah and his brother scraped together gas and food money by performing at summer festivals and collecting money in their hats. Lifescan helped with an initial grant, and the brothersare officially a fiscally-sponsored non-profit, so they can fundraise and offer tax write-offs to their donors. Noah hopes that by the end of theirsummer at the diabetes camps, he and his brother will be able to cover their costs. It looks a little dicey at the moment because their van’s transmission just fell apart, and the repair bill blew their budget completely.
Noah hopes to go to even more camps next year, but of course itdepends on whether he can raise the money to do it. To find out more about the brothers and perhaps contribute to their mission, go towww.noahsvoyage.com.