GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Learning to live with Type 1 diabetes isn't easy for newly diagnosed patients and their families. Especially when that person is just a young child; someone who simply wants to be a kid, play after school, eat candy, and do everything friends and family get to do without thinking about how it will impact his or her blood-glucose level.
That's why Diabetes Counts Network, a support group for kids living with Type 1 and their families, is putting on the Western Slope's first-ever Family Type 1 Camp Aug. 1-3 at Camp Id-Ra-Ha-Je West (an existing kids camp located between Paonia and Aspen).
According to Diabetes Counts Network Coordinator Summer Turner, the inaugural overnight family camp is open to kids of all ages, parents, brothers and sisters, and it's meant to be both fun and educational. Activities include team-building exercises for families, a professional speaker, as well as time for outdoorsy activities (like camping, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.) Kids and parents will have separate activities, and programming will also focus on behavioral issues and how to deal with Type 1 diabetes in an emergency setting.
Turner, whose 13-year-old daughter Caid was diagnosed with Type 1 a few years ago, created Diabetes Counts Network with support from Community Hospital to help better serve Grand Valley children who are diagnosed with the disorder.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease which causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin (a hormone) needed to break down sugars and carbohydrates consumed throughout the day. To treat it, a variety of factors need to be addressed. Folks with Type 1 should test their blood-glucose level often, inject insulin daily through a syringe or pump, and participate in other healthy measures like maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise.
People who have Type 1 experience issues that "are different but the same," Turner said. "It's nice to have (kids) share those differences and similarities together" for better understanding. "It alleviates mental stress to share with their peers."
Turner also said having a support group for kids and their families helps make everyone feel like they're not alone in dealing with the time-intensive and expensive health issue. So, in the family camp setting, there will be plenty of time for children and parents to share their experiences on a variety of topics.
"You get to see how other people deal with diabetes," she said, "and what you do may be different."
Because living with Type 1 comes often at great expense (medical devices and medications are costly, even with insurance), Turner additionally said money is being raised for a camp scholarship fund, food, activities, a speaker and more.
"Every family that comes will receive a $200 scholarship," Turner added.