Ever since Tana Manchester’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last April, life has never been the same.
“It’s not something you forget about, even for a minute,” she said of the chronic condition affecting 33,000 school-aged children in Canada, in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
“I thought I knew what the disease was all about but it’s a lot more than I’d realized.
“Every time you put food in your mouth, you’re taking needles, you’re doing a finger prick for blood test… she takes between five and 10 insulin shots a day.”
And while the physical challenges of diabetes have been overwhelming, Manchester said the mental aspect has been even more difficult.
“I started hearing things from her like, ‘You don’t get it’ and ‘I have nobody to talk to about this,’” she said. “As her mom, I can do everything here to support her, and we do work as a team, but I really don’t understand what it’s like. I’m not the one taking needles every day.”
Manchester began researching ways to bring local families together and form a community for children living with Type 1 Diabetes. She came across ‘I Challenge Diabetes,’ a charity launched by former Canadian Olympic rower Chris Jarvis, who was diagnosed at age 13.
The organization works to support and empower people living with diabetes, through educational programs and workshops aiming to provide them with the skills to live their best life.
“I just wanted to start something to help others know that they can live healthy lives and to pass on that knowledge,” said Manchester, who has arranged for the I Challenge Diabetes team to host an event in Sarnia next month.
“They really want to empower youth — and anyone living with diabetes — to have the confidence and overcome any issues from managing the disease, as well as form a supportive network.”
The event, ‘I Challenge Diabetes Sports Camps with the Pros’ will take place March 17 at Alexander Mackenzie school, and includes sports, dance and drama workshops for youth aged five to 15, lunch, and a parent workshop.
“They’ll integrate knowledge about optimizing blood glucose management during exercise,” said Manchester, noting that the group’s leaders are all living with Type 1 Diabetes.
“The whole concept is about creating a positive support environment where the kids can learn and grow together.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: I Challenge Diabetes: Sports Camps with the Pros & Parent Workshop
WHEN: Sunday, March 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School
DETAILS: Cost is $10 per family; lunch provided; visit ichallengediabetes.org or the I Challenge Diabetes – Sarnia Facebook page