Summer camps are in full swing and the kids at Camp Jean Nelson in Water Valley, Alberta have been smiling all week long.
They’ve been climbing ropes, telling ghost stories, and pulling cabin pranks, like any other group of tweens at summer camp might.
The camp counsellors at Camp Jean Nelson, however, are a little different than the usual cast of youth that would shepherd cabins at a summer camp. Camp Jean Nelson is a camp for kids with Type 1 diabetes, so the camp officials are health care professionals and people living with diabetes themselves.
When it comes time to roast some s’mores at the end of a fun day, it also means it’s time to do a blood test and balance insulin levels. The camp counsellors are there to help manage everything and keep the kids on track in the same way their parents would at home.
Diabetes doesn’t take a day off. It’s a 24/7/365 illness that requires you to think like a pancreas before you exercise, before you eat, before you do anything that many of us take for granted.
Having a full support network is so vital for people living with diabetes. In can be exhausting to do the calculations and management and emotionally draining. Parents, already accused of being helicopters, need to hover even tighter over a diabetic child.
So, for a week, it’s the counsellors who get to be the coaches. It’s the peers who will demonstrate the good habits. It’s the same message, from a different voice, and it can be the difference between a consistent healthy maintenance of diabetes or getting slack and causing complications.
This week Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes was announced as ‘head’ coach of the Accuracy Coach program on CONTOUR® NEXT’s new PoweredbyAccuracy.ca platform. The son of legendary NHL tough guy Tie Domi, Max was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12.
The only question he had when he was first diagnosed was “Can I still play hockey?” It’s that kind of drive and commitment that makes Max the perfect role model for kids and adults alike. Over the next few months he’s going to share his own story, working closely with healthcare professionals and other people with diabetes, to inspire and educate Canadians about diabetes.
“Managing diabetes can be hard, but with the right coaching and support there are no limits. It’s so important that people with diabetes have the confidence to develop a healthy mindset and take control,” says Domi. “I want to reach as many people as I can and share my own experience and tell my own story. Diabetes hasn’t stopped me and the goals I’ve set for myself, and it doesn’t have to stop anyone else.”
Max made it to the NHL with the support of coaches and family, the same sort of support system that allows kids at Camp Jean Nelson to canoe, climb, and have another s’more around the campfire.
Max was 12 when he was diagnosed, my oldest is only 9. I think about this so often with my involvement with the Canadian Diabetes Association. There are more than eleven million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes and every three minutes another Canadian is diagnosed.
I think my kids are great and healthy, but you just never know. Once you have a window into the world in which diabetics live, it will open a flood of empathy and support. It did for me.
So I advocate for better care for diabetes kids in schools, I advocate for better funding for research, I keep myself on a healthy plan to keep Type 2 at bay, and if my kids ever do get diagnosed, I know there is a community of support ready to embrace us.
PoweredByAccuracy.ca will act as a resource and support system for people managing diabetes, helping them to take their management of the disease to the #nextLevel. The goal of the site is to provide inspiration, educational content and support for people with diabetes to manage and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle through coaching and guidance from Accuracy Coaches, including Max.
Shining a light on this disease is so so important. As a result of stigma or fear of stigma, 37 per cent of Canadians with type 2 diabetes surveyed said they do not feel comfortable disclosing their diabetes. This means they’re not getting the support to care for themselves, something that is so vital. Diabetes is a chronic illness that can be managed. When those of us without offer our shoulder for those with to lean on, we all win.
Please visit PoweredByAccuracy.ca to find personal accounts and anecdotes from those living with diabetes, along with health-related information from industry professionals, educational videos and an opportunity to submit your own diabetes-related question directly to Max via an interactive Q&A on the site. If someone you know is living with diabetes, pass the URL along, let them know they’re not alone, and that we are stronger together.