Monday, December 15, 2008

Diabetes Camps

I mentioned in a post a couple of months ago that Nikki met and talked with Kris Freemen this past summer at Camp Korelitz (Camp Korelitz is a camp where all the counselors and campers have diabetes). Kris is a former and current member of the United States Cross Country Ski Team and will be competing again in the next Winter Olympics. Kris is also a type 1 diabetic and uses an insulin pump.

At the end of August of this year he spoke at the Democratic National Convention about the need for the government continuing to fund research and trials that will eventually result in a cure. I wanted share a portion of the speech he gave:

Over the years I have worked with Lilly {pharmaceutical company} to spread this message at camps for kids with diabetes around the country, and to raise awareness for the disease. The camps I have gone to are amazing. It is easy to feel isolated and alone with diabetes. Many schools around the country are not equipped to properly care for their diabetic students, which only exacerbates these feelings of isolation for the children. Some schools outright discriminate against these students by not allowing for glucose testing and other essential treatments while studying. This has led to placing diabetic children in remedial classes despite having no intellectual or learning disabilities. The last thing any child wants is something that makes them feel like an outsider. By coming together at camp, children with diabetes get a sense of unity that gives them strength. This harmony is contagious and has consumed me as well. The kids feed off the familiarity of the challenges and hardships that they face in their daily lives and leave camp with a newfound determination to live life to the fullest.

I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that diabetes camp can have on the self esteem of a child. Camp also helps form friendships that will forever hold a special place in the campers’ heart. In fact, a couple of the people on my Facebook list are former camp counselors and fellow diabetics of my Nikki.

Though it seems way early to be thinking about summer camps; I encourage you to seek one out early in winter if your child does not already have a camp to attend. It is a week each year that will make a priceless change in the life of your d-child; and yes, you (the parent) will hate every second of them being gone for a very long week – but that is a small and insignificant price to pay for the positive impact it will have on the life of your precious child.