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Local Family Experiences Benefits of Diabetes Camps

by Shanine Sealey

National Diabetes month takes place during November. Throughout the month, numerous campaigns will be held to help raise awareness of the epidemic proportions this disease has in Canada. Locally, the Martensville Pharmasave location will once again be taking part in the Blue Circle Campaign.

The Blue Circle Campaign takes place at Pharmasave and PharmaChoice locations across Saskatchewan and Manitoba and money raised will go towards supporting the D-Camps program for children and youth that are living with type 1 diabetes. In 2016, this campaign helped to raise $20,000 to help send these children and their families to the D-Camps, where they learn from specialists how to better manage their diabetes.

Faith Rowland who has worked within Diabetes Canada for the past 12 years and has lived with diabetes for 8 of those years, discussed the importance of the D-Camps for families that have a child living with diabetes. The week-long children’s summer camp for ages 7-15 is typically for children that are newly diagnosed. While at camp, they take part in typical camp activities such as swimming, watersports, archery, etc., however; the children also have access to a variety of diabetes management aspects. The camp has a pediatric endocrinologist, medical residents, diabetes educators, diabetic nurses, dieticians and camp counsellors that are living with diabetes themselves. “The whole camp structure is to support the kids and to teach them how to live with diabetes. It’s a very real learning experience for them, and parents tell us that their kids come back from camp far more confident in how they manage their diabetes,” Rowland explained.

In addition to the children’s camp, Diabetes Canada also offers a Family Camp, which is also a week-long program that the entire family can participate in. Families can come to camp and learn about diabetes management, meet other families living with diabetes, share their experiences and leave feeling more confident in their abilities as a family to manage diabetes. There is also a Learning Development Camp for children that have aged out of camp and can attend camp to learn how to be camp counsellors.

One local family has experienced the benefits of the D-Camps, having attended both the Children’s Camp and Family Camp. Their daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before the age of 3. “The same month she was diagnosed, we found that the local diabetes office was holding Family Camps for families with diabetes. Those camps saved us, made us feel as if we had a support system when we didn’t think we did,” Dolly Mistry stated. Facing many of the same challenges as most families dealing with diabetes, Dolly discussed what some of their main struggles have been. “It has been a struggle to let others know what she has, which is an auto immune disorder which has no cure, yet. Also, that insulin is not a cure. Her body still needs the sugar from healthy foods to grow,” Mistry added. Additionally, the family faces concerns about ensuring their daughter fits in at school and doesn’t stand out, at the same time protecting her to ensure her safety. “We constantly have to figure out how each daily task or activity will affect her body, her blood glucose and her mood.” The high cost of insulin and supplies is another concern for families living with diabetes.

Approximately 80 children attend camp each year, and 15 families attend the Family Camp. Parents pay for approximately 20% of the costs and the rest is supplemented by donations and events like the Blue Circle Campaign. Families that are unable to cover the 20% have the option of applying for help through Diabetes Canada. “Certainly what research has shown us is that a child that is confi dent in their diabetes management, and confident in themselves as a ‘normal kid’, even though they have diabetes, are far more likely to have less complications going into the future and that’s what we are trying to achieve,” Rowland said.

Diabetes Canada offers an online test that can help assess your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The test is sponsored by Sun Life Financial, and for each test taken, they will donate $3 to Diabetes Canada.

For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464). Be sure to participate in the Blue Circle campaign at the Martensville Pharmasave and help contribute to Diabetes Canada. “Our family is so grateful to be a part of such an amazing community, which in turn supports our family,” added Mistry.

Note on featured image

Martensville Mayor Kent Muench was the fi rst to contribute to the Blue Circle Campaign that will run throughout the month of November at the Martensville Pharmasave location in support of Diabetes Month. (Shanine Sealey/MM)

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