I don’t have a direct, personal, family connection to diabetes. The manner in which I became an advocate for this cause is purely selfish.
I joined Team Diabetes to travel. It was only after I met the people on the team did I realize there was a greater good here. Since that first Team Diabetes event in August 2003, I have raised more than $35 000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association and have participated in 4 other events. Next May in Edinburgh will be event number 6 and I don’t see myself stopping the fundraising or awareness anytime soon.
So, who inspires you in the fight against diabetes? Let me start by sharing who inspires me.
The people living with diabetes are who inspire me in the fight against diabetes. It’s as simple as that. You know the song on Sesame Street, the people in your neighborhood, those are the people who inspire me.
I have no direct connection to the cause, so it is the people who I meet through my Team Diabetes involvement that inspire me.
Watch this video I made back in 2009 when I was honoured to be named a Team Diabetes Champion by The Canadian Diabetes Association.
The people who live with diabetes are the ones who inspire me. This summer I visited Camp Jean Nelson and met the kids who get to spend a week at diabetes camp feeling normal surrounded by kids just like them. And now as my kids start to enter school and I become more concerned about their education and the school system and how it treats people, I have more people inspiring me to fight against diabetes.
C is in Grade 1. She has Type 1 diabetes. Here’s an excerpt from a letter her father, wrote to the Naomi Johnson, Superintendent with the Calgary Board of Education about how his daughter has been marginalized because she has diabetes. After months of receiving great care from her teacher, administrative staff wanted to put a stop to it because it was “inconvenient.”
I received a phone call from the assistant principle advising our family that C’s diabetic condition was inconvenient not only to the staff and students of the school that she attends but that the extra care that she receives from the staff at her school would not longer be offered.[I was told] the school is unable and should not be expected to handle and store medications and “sharps” for her. However, epi-pens and inhalers are not a problem.
The final argument was that this decision was one that was made by “the board” and was facilitated by the legal department and risk assessment group in response to a concern that “there are too many children being diagnosed”.
My daughter did not ask to have this disease but she does ask when she can next go to school. Her insulin pump is designed so that needles are not a daily part of her life, it’s a simple device that is designed to be operated by non-medical adults, seniors, teens, and children. The 15 seconds that it may take teacher to help her with the day to day struggles of being a unwilling but accepting patient is not a drain on the resources of the school or a detriment to her peers.
This decision has forced my wife to leave her career so that she can come to the school to perform a simple daily task, to appease the apprehension of the administrators of that school who by their own admission have never even held C’s insulin pump in their hand. A parent entering the classroom or a child being forced to leave her classroom
multiple times per day is a bigger disruption of the learning environment in any case. All of this change has occurred while her teacher has expressed her absolute willingness and interest in continuing to help C as she has been doing so perfectly since last September.
I’m sorry, but yes, diabetes is inconvenient. But for kids like C, it’s something they’re born with and nothing they chose. To be honest, I’m shocked at the level of ignorance displayed by this school staff.
C is now missing out on recess and lunch play time with her friends because of her frequent trips to the office to manage her diabetes. Kids in playgroups at school are starting to leave her out “because of her diabetes.” Instead of involving C with her peers, the school is taking special steps to remove her from the group. It’s shocking.
So, for kids like C, I will fight against diabetes. And I will fight against ignorance. And I will fight against stigma. I will raise money to find a cure, and I will raise awareness to show that just because you have to count carbs, calculate blood sugar, and take an insulin needle doesn’t mean you’re dismissible.
I’ve shared this story on the #fightingdiabetes page and would appreciate your help in upvoting it.