Thursday, February 2, 2012
Spreading Awareness – One Friend at a Time
In a prior post we talked about how Emerson took Rufus (the JDRF diabetes bear) to school on a recent day and talked to her friends about diabetes. This was a great opportunity for her but not an entirely new one, as her school friends have been exposed to this disease through her for nearly a year now and have been truly great, with some even participating with her in the JDRF Walk for a Cure last year. Those same opportunities have not always presented themselves in other settings though…but that is beginning to change.
Emerson has been taking gymnastics for a little over a year now. Our house has become her second gym as she makes use of whatever furniture she can to practice what she learns each session. Her hard work has paid off as she has steadily advanced through the different class types and levels, with her most recent move occurring just in the last couple weeks. She is now part of this gym’s pre-team program, which is made up primarily of 5 and 6-year olds (she is not yet 4 ½). Something we noticed immediately is how much more inquisitive this age group of kids is. At the time of Emerson’s first class her pump site was on her bottom. We are “podders” so the pods create a noticeable bulge under her leotard when they are on her back or butt. During the first session she was paired up with another kid and as they were taking turns we saw the girl stop Emerson for a moment, turn her around, pat her butt and begin talking to her. We were not at all surprised to see Emerson respond immediately with a quick response and shrug of the shoulders before continuing on with the activity.
From the first day she was diagnosed we have always made her feel as though she is special and that she has an opportunity to educate others about this disease (not that she always got that but we feel she is beginning to). When we made the Omnipod our lifeline of choice we again made her feel like she had a cool device that other kids would ask her about and that she should be proud of. Every session at gymnastics as she has interacted with different kids we see them inquire about what is under her leotard or armband (we use the Bands 4 Life armbands for extra protection when she wears it on her arm). We watch as she responds quickly and naturally to make them aware of what it is and what it is for without any signs of embarrassment. She is not ashamed at all about her condition or extra “equipment” and just takes it all in stride. We couldn’t be more proud of her and hope that going through these experiences at such a young age will make it easier on her when she gets to the age where kids may try to make her feel different and not so special. Even more we hope that these types of interactions are happening everywhere, so as today’s young T1Ders get to that age, other kids will be fully aware of the disease and realize that it doesn’t make those with the disease any less normal than they are.