Science in the City

I have just completed participation in a fantastic month long event. ASU’s Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) hosted Science in the City: American Indian Health and Diabetes. The Phoenix Union High School District invites students  ages 12-14 to participate for free. It was held at the SIRC center in downtown Phoenix. A great group of leaders and volunteers made this month long program a huge success.

As The Diabetes Coach, I was asked to station a center to describe the differences between Type I diabetes and Type II diabetes. I knew I could do that easily. The challenge was in keeping middle school students interested, educated and excited about it. They were a great group of kids, so this turned out to not be a problem.

The kids rotated in small groups to various stations, including physical fitness, healthy food options, how to read labels on foods and beverages, glucose wands that help students visualize the effects of sugar in the blood and my station to identify the differences in T1 and T2 and hear what it is like to live with diabetes.

I love this idea of education. So many of the kids said, ”You don’t look like you have diabetes!”  That is the first step in educating people about this disease. They loved getting to touch all of the gadgets that PWDs carry around with them on a daily basis. They were interested in the needles, insulin pens, pumps and even the glucose tabs and Quick Sticks.

It hit home with some of them that I had been diagnosed at the age they are right now. I think it hit home when they were able to see the syringes that kids their age use  and the responsibilities that a PWD must maintain.

Some of these kids will only remember that I said words like, “zits, pimples, acne and cuts or blisters” when I discussed sores that do not heal. Some will only remember that I said things like “Your period and puberty” when discussing other things that can make your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Some might only remember that they were shocked to hear that “girls can aim when they have to pee on a ketone stick, like a boy.” Other kids however, asked intense questions about the warning signs and prevention of T2. One child had over 6 immediate family members with diabetes and was terrified. One student said that they were going to encourage their grandparent to take better care of themselves.

It didn’t really matter if they learned every part of every presentation. This program was to educate, inspire and encourage these kids. They will all remember something. That is one big positive step in summertime education.

A huge thank you goes out to Kate Rogers, Jana Wardian, Adrienne Baldwin, Estela Barraza and Armando Peña. There were other volunteers included and the entire program deserves a round of appreciation!




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