WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13: Two diabetes camping experts from Boston are due to visit the island to facilitate a free empowerment programme for young people with diabetes.
Lorne Abramson, immediate past executive director of the Diabetes Education and Camping Association, and Shelley Yeager, of the Diabetes Outreach will be on the island from Wednesday, June 20 to Saturday June 23 at the BHB Diabetes Centre, MAWI. The event is thanks to the Bermuda Diabetes Association.
They will be working with young adults with diabetes to create a diabetes programme and camp event that, if successful, could become a permanent fixture in Bermuda.
The aim of the event is to empower young people with diabetes from around the age of 16 and above by giving them free rein to organize how the programme is run.
Abramson told the Bermuda Sun: “One of the ways of empowering our youth is to make sure they are involved intricately in the organizational structure. In the past they haven’t been included as organizers, but empowerment means they have responsibility. These are not just words — they will be responsible for the majority of the decision making process. They could veto something and we have to live with that.
“Empowerment can be threatening to older adults because it means that you have to have faith in the fact that your young adults are capable of taking on that responsibility and carrying through on whatever mission they have.
“We are not quite sure where it will lead — we think the most likely result will be a family camp and possibly a youth programme.
“It might end up as a series of workshops but the beginning stages are a way for us to bring together some of the major players including some of the youth who have in the past been involved in the diabetes camp.”
Previous camps facilitated by Abramson and Yeager have brought together young diabetics, their parents or trusted adults, and medical professionals. With the young adults at the helm they have come up with mission statements, needs assessments and programme structures. At the end of the workshops it is hoped that there will be a camp organized for the Saturday where young diabetics of all ages are invited to attend.
Abramson became involved with diabetes when his daughter was diagnosed at the age of six — she is now 35.
He said: “The challenge of diabetes for a child is that in their normal life they very seldom meet anyone else who has diabetes in their age range so they are always in a minority setting. Everything they do makes them a stranger or an outcast so they tend to act like that — they feel they have to hide this disease away. But when they go to a camp they are surrounded by children and adults who all are issued with the same challenge and all of a sudden things that seemed strange now become the norm. It becomes much easier to deal with your disease and manage it if everyone around you is doing the same thing. There is nothing like sitting at a diabetes camp watching a nine-year-old who, for the first time, realizes that their counsellors, rock climbing or swimming teachers, are testing their blood sugars 12 times a day and doing their own adjustments and having normal discussions.
“If I, as a diabetic, have a hyperglycemic reaction while playing a football game, if I didn’t have a lot of other diabetics around me I would be removed from the situation — it is making me different — whereas in a diabetes camp if a kid has a reaction they can just whip out their blood glucose machines, test and treat themselves or if there is a nurse there to treat them, then a few minutes and bang — they are back in the game.
“It is a way of saying you are no different to anyone else you are just treating your condition and getting on with your life.
The Youth Empowerment workshops take place at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Diabetes Centre at MAWI (Devon Springs road, Devonshire) from June 20, to June 22 from 4pm to 8pm.Call 239-2027 or e-mail email@example.com.