Hey there everyone! Before I get started on asking some questions, lemme give you a quick background. I'm a junior in a normal (not big...but definately not small) town. There are a little over a thousand students in my high school. About 250 in my junior class. Luckily, some of my closest friends are diabetics. Including me, there are at LEAST 4 in my grade... There are 2 sophomores that I know...and 1 (my best friend ever) freshman with type 1 diabetes... Just a few weeks ago, one of the autistic kids was put in our class room in hopes that he would become a little more comfortable in a regular classroom environment. He also has diabetes and wears an insulin pump. After I notced that, I started looking around more and noticed at LEAST 2 others that are wearing insulin pumps too... thats about 10 people with diabetes. That got me to thinking...then this happened last week.
One of my closest friends and I have been friends since 2nd grade. She knows just about as much about my diabetes as I do. After school last week we went to sonic to get some drinks before we went to the liabrary to work on our research papers. She told me that after school the day before she was in our sophomore english teachers room. His grandaughter just moved into our school district from a school of about 600... The english teacher asked my friend how I was doing because the last time I talked to him I was getting ready to see my endo at ACH....... His grandaughter went off saying how she wished that people would just quit complaining about diabetes. Apparently ever since she moved here, she's heard so many people talking about it and complaining about it. She says that its not that big of a deal and that anyone could live with it. That really upsets me... I mean, yeah.. Diabetes isn't the WORST thing in life... but you can't be a weakling to live with it either. It takes a lot of courage and strength and will power both emotionally and physically...at least in my opinion.
Then 3 days ago, we were having a little "pep rally" thing to get ready to take the literacy test. We were playing our version of games from the tv show "minute to win it"... The teachers were calling for volunteers..and one of them picked this boy in my class that has had diabetes since he was 5. The game was where you had to put a cookie on your forehead and use your face mussles to get it in your mouth. I was sitting in the back of the cafeteria with my boyfriend and some of his friends watching. The diabetic guy was the first to get the cookie in his mouth, as a matter of fact, he ate 3. The people that were sitting around me started freaking out. They were saying stuff about how he was going to die because he just ate a cookie.. according to them, diabetecs aren't allowed to eat ANY sugar at all.. NONE. That bothered me too. Just because we are diabetics doesn't mean we have to eat 100% healthy all the time.. We can have small amounts of sugar as long as we remember to give insulin for it.
I've noticed more and more every day how many students at my school have diabetes and how many other students in my school are so...uneducated about it. I really want to be mad at them, but I know that wouldn't be right because they are just making asumptions that most uneducated people make.
Next year will be my senior year. I've been in this school district my entire life and I really want to make an impact on it before I leave. I'm wanting to get together with my JDRF walk to cure diabetes team and my school board and put together some kind of assembly to help raise diabetes awareness and eliminate some of those nasty assumptions that people make.... my only problem is that I'm afraid of not having support..
A lot of times, teenagers don't really care about anything other than themselves. I don't want this to turn out the same way. I don't want people just talking and laughing and texting because they are using the time as "free time" or a study hall. I really want to open their eyes and show them what life with diabetes is like. I know that they won't ever truly know how life changing diabetes can be.. but surely there is something that I can do... Any tips, ideas, suggestions, or support? I really need it... Thanks guys!
I think you should go for it. Do you think any of the other T1D students would be interested in getting involved? If you had a handful of others who were interested, that could help you greatly. Also, maybe some of your other non-D friends would help. If you spoke with people that you're close with and told them your concerns about people goofing off during the assembly, they'd be more likely to be quiet and paying attention during the presentation, which hopefully would spread to others. (I don't know about your school, but in mine, if lots of people were being quiet and paying attention, people were more likely to just follow suite. If people were talking and goofing off and no one was telling them not to, it was complete chaos.) School administrators should be able to help you with this too.
One idea I have is to keep messages simple and bold in order to make the largest impact while speaking to a large group of students. For example, you could have big posters with true or false questions about the misconceptions people have about type 1 diabetes. Like, one could say "Type 1 Diabetics can't have any sugar, true or false?" and "Type 1 Diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise, true or false?" You (or other presenters) could ask the questions to the crowd and then give the correct answer and explain it. Maybe you could give out little prizes for people in the crowd who give the correct answer to the questions. Just an idea!
I really think you should go for it too! You should never let fear stop you from doing something you feel strongly about, and it sounds like a lot of the people in your school's attitudes could use some education. And don't let the ignorance of a few make you too mad, these people just haven't learned about diabetes yet, and (unfortunately for them) a lot of them eventually will. It reminded me of when I was in high school, and a new girl came to our school who had diabetes. No one I had known personally had diabetes, so we really didn't know anything. She was on the cross country team and one day passed out and had to go to the hospital. We were all told she "didn't eat enough" before she ran. I still remember thinking, how "dumb" she was for not doing what she was supposed to. (Yeah, like it's simple math to do everything just right!) And she was kind of shy so I took her out to lunch to try to get to know her. I took her to a pie shop. Anyway, my point is not to demonstrate what a jerk I was, I wasn't, I was just ignorant. I became T1 when I was 23 and have learned a lot over the last 25 years. And I've often thought, I wish I knew where Janice was so I could laugh at myself with her!
Thanks guys. I really do think I am going to talk to the JDRF cordinator in my area. I'm an ambassador for the Greater Arkansas Chapter... so maybe they'll be able to help. My non-diabetic friends are all up for helping me out and I'm sure that some of my T1D's would love to help too.. I'm still up for any more ideas on ways to open up they eyes of crazy hyper carelesss teenagers... so if you have any more ideas... send them at me! :)
I knew the signs of diabetes and when my daughter started showing the symptoms I knew she had it before the Dr. came in the room and asked me to step out with her for a minute. I wasn't totally ignorant but I had a heck of a lot of questions. Some of them would have been considered stupid and rude by some. My daughter had the worst sweet tooth I have ever seen. She constantly wanted sweets. She is still that way somewhat but it was worse before diagnosis. I asked the Endo if we had contributed to her disease by letting her eat so much junk. I asked a lot of dumb questions. I eagerly tell people whatever they want to know about Type 1. People ask if she will grow out of it and all sorts of things like that. It is just an opportunity to spread the word. Maybe they will donate one day or participate in some way to help for a cure if they know a bit. Practice kindness and understanding whenever you can.
Hi Taylor, that is a great idea to have an assembly to raise awareness! That is great that you have other people who are willing to help as well. You should definitely go for it and raise awareness. Now for suggestions, I have a few. :P
When it gets closer to the date of the assembly, posters everywhere. ;) Put them near classroom doors because kids will look at them if they have to wait to get in or they will look at it if they think it was something left by the teacher. Make it Bold and bright and colourful! You can use clever words and you can even make some with different information so kids will learn more before they even go to the assembly. You could make a really cool design for it or take a photo. I love that type of stuff so if you need suggestions just ask or a picture for it just ask. :)
Another thing that really gets kids focused in an assembly is humour. Face it so many teens skip assemblies or text during them because they think it will be boring or because it is boring. A person came to my school a couple of weeks ago and he was hilarious. People couldn't stop talking about it. It is hard to think of funny stuff though but he made a lot of jokes about common things that teens do, which is off topic but it got their attention which is important.
You could also see if maybe you could get an interesting guest speaker to come in (your JDRF cordinator may have some people in mind). It could be interesting if they could talk for a little bit too, it would be really cool if you could get someone who has an interesting life story around Diabetes and how it has shaped or changed their life.
You could also put up signs and make announcements about it and tell kids to wear blue to support. They do that a lot at my school. At halloween we were told to all wear orange and black. That could make it fun too. It would also be cool to see a bunch of people in the audience wearing blue.
You could even hold some kind of contest if your school lets you, for the most people in a class wearing blue or something like that. Kids like it when food is involved or prizes. ;)
You could make a few t-shirts to throw out into the audience to catch. People like it when they are involved, and they get less distracted. :P You could even call up volunteers, kids love to volunteer in assemblies.
If you can demonstrations are great too or skits. People like to see stuff other than just a person talking. You could make it funny too.
Sorry for such a long reply I have a lot of ideas. :P I can send more but I have to think for a bit. Hope this helps and ask me if you need any help with anything. :) Good Luck, It is so awesome that you are going to do this!