DOBSON — While much is made of adult onset diabetes, it’s often overlooked that children are also a victim of the condition.
But now there is a group to help.
The Diabetes Program at the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has begun working with school nurses throughout the county to identify and provide a support group for students who suffer with diabetes and their families.
According to Director Kelly Whittington, the goal of the meetings is to offer support and friendship for young diabetics.
“We want to allow the students and their families to meet others who deal with the same daily challenges of managing diabetes along with school and family life,” Whittington said. “Often, these students do not realize that there are other kids also trying to manage the condition. It can make a huge difference to know that they are not alone.”
And the benefits don’t stop with the child diabetics themselves.
Whittington said parents also benefit, often simply by being able to discuss issues that arise with others going through similar challenges.
“Just talking with others who have been there can greatly reduce the stress associated with dealing with childhood diabetes,” she said. “And informal mentoring spontaneously develops when parents are provided an opportunity to get together.”
The group is open to students in grades K-12 in Surry County schools, or school-aged children who are homeschooled.
Whittington said the group is open to any child suffering from diabetes.
The group was formed after Whittington received a $4,000 grant in November from the Surry County Health Foundation.
“That grant money now allows the meetings to be held in places where young people are comfortable hanging out,” she said.
For example, a recent meeting was held at the Starlite Skate Center in Mount Airy.
“Coordinated by the Diabetes Education Program at the health and nutrition center, 29 people attended, including students with diabetes, their families and school nurses,” she said.
Children attending the free gathering ranged in age from 6 to 16, and the benefits went far beyond skating and snacking.
“By fostering friendships among students, parents and nurses, these meetings are having a positive impact on the diabetes management for the students,” Whittington said. “It is much easier for school nurses and parents to work together on managing the student’s diabetes when a trusting relationship has been developed.”
Upcoming events include a possible trip to SciWorks or the Airbound Trampoline Park in Winston-Salem.
For more information, contact Whittington at 401-8459.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.