Kaitlyn’s school recently had a great event called “Abilities Awareness Week.” It was a full week of assemblies, recess games, and activity stations to help the children understand abilities and the challenges that some children face. I got to help along with many other parent helpers and volunteers from the community. Several businesses in the area also sent a huge number of their staff to help run the shifts. They had the multi-purpose room set up in sections, so that each class could come in and participate in several activities that would build their awareness.

During my shift, I was in charge of running the wheelchair station, where each of the children could try out a wheelchair by going through a little course. (That’s Kaitlyn’s brother Jonathan on the course in the photo above.) We also talked about how to use good manners when interacting with someone in a wheelchair. The other stations included activities designed to let the kids experience what it’s like to have blurred vision, fine motor challenges, dyslexia, learning differences, blindness, etc. Some of Kaitlyn’s favorite activities were when she had to write her name on a piece of paper with her feet, walk blind-folded through an obstacle course with a walking stick, and build with blocks wearing an oven mitt on her hand. The over-arching theme was that it’s okay to be friends with everyone, no matter their abilities or challenges. I think it was a huge success. The kids had a great time and were exposed to a new perspective.

When I came home and told my husband about it, I got to thinking, what if we added a diabetes station for next year’s event? We could have a table where people counted carbs for certain foods, checked their blood sugar, and practiced loading syringes and giving shots! Do you think they would let me get away with something like that?:)

Although I wouldn’t really call type 1 diabetes a “disability,” it’s definitely something that comes with challenges. It’s also something that people are largely uneducated about. The more we can do to increase the awareness of diabetes, the better. I always encourage Kaitlyn to talk to her friends about diabetes and to not hide it or be embarrassed. When she has done this, most of her friends have not been nervous about it … they think she’s pretty cool.

In fact, after the Abilities Awareness Week was over, Kaitlyn told me that a complete stranger came up to her and told her how cool she was that she had diabetes. I guess the message got through to at least one person! We’ll see if I can come up with something good for a diabetes station next year … maybe an activity that doesn’t include pricking fingers or giving shots!

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

 

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5 Ways You Can Help End Social Stigma Around Diabetes
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