With over 1.1 million children living with type I diabetes, according to Lions International Diabetes Fact Sheet, Lions in District 20 K-1, covering Brooklyn and Queens, are deeply concerned about children afflicted with diabetes.
“When children are diagnosed with diabetes, coping can become a big challenge for the entire family,” Jamaican Beverley Campbell, District 20 K-1 Diabetes Chairperson 2022-23, told Caribbean Life on Sunday. “And nutrition, often times, becomes the greatest challenge.”
Campbell – a Brooklyn resident, who also serves as executive director for three child care programs in Jamaica, Queens, under the umbrella Afro American Parents Educational Centers, Inc., serving about 150 children ranging from 2 to 5 years – said it is important for her to do everything in her power “to help slow the process”, as stated in the above statistics.
“I want to be able to help in preventing some of my parents from receiving such devastating news,” she said. “I have learnt that a strong healthy nutrition program can help in slowing the process for these children.
“This has encouraged me to strengthen an even stronger nutrition program in my schools, so that we may be able to save at least one child and one family from living in pain for the rest of their lives,” she added.
In November, Campbell said her schools ensured that they weekly instituted one meatless day in honor of Diabetes Month. The color blue was used in celebrating Diabetes Month, she said.
Campbell said while it’s normal for someone who learns they have diabetes to have lots of different feelings, it’s not unusual that a new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes can bring on feelings of shock, sadness or anger.
The key difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that type 1 is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction and develops early in life, according to healthline.com.
It said type 2 diabetes develops over the course of many years and is related to lifestyle factors, such as being inactive and carrying excess weight. It’s usually diagnosed in adults.
“Some kids are eager to express their feelings, while others may need encouragement to share what’s on their mind,” Campbell said. “Be available when your child wants to talk. Listen carefully to what they say. Reassure them that their feelings are ok.
“You may want to remind yourself and your child that a diabetes diagnosis is no one’s fault; There’s nothing you or your child did to cause it,” she added. “And keep in mind that because of new treatments and technologies, kids with diabetes today can learn to manage their condition while doing all the things other kids do.
“If you need help talking with your child about diabetes, reach out to a care team to address your child’s ability to accept and adjust to living with diabetes,” Campbell continued. “Your child looks to you for care, comfort and advice. They count on you to support them physically (like helping them through an insulin shot) and emotionally (like talking about the feelings that come with having a new and lasting condition).
“To show your interest and support, start having open conversations soon after your child’s diagnosis,” she said. “You’ll set a strong foundation for communicating about any challenges that could happen in the future. Together we can.”
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Afro American Parents Educational Centers, Inc., Campbell thanked the parents for their permission to take the photograph in which the children wore blue shirts in commemoration of Diabetes Month.
According to New York City Health Information, 43 percent of elementary school children are at an unhealthy weight, with more than half of these children being obese.
NYC Health Information said being overweight puts children at risk for diabetes and other health problems that can affect them throughout their lives.
The Health Information offers the following tips to help children avoid diabetes and other health problems: “Spend at least one hour a day being physically active; limit use of TV and video games to no more than one hour a day; eat smaller amounts, bigger is not always better; drink water instead of soda; eat a total of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day; eat less fast food (no more than once a week); snack on healthy foods and eat less junk food and sweets; and switch to low-fat (1 percent or less) dairy products.”