They came, they talked, they ran.
Team Diabetes Canada were among the more than 1,000 runners who took part in last weekend’s Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon. But before they hit the road, two of their members – Nick Palek and director of Community Giving for the Canadian Diabetes Association Fred DeFina – joined Christina Rowlandson of the Cayman Islands Diabetes Charitable Trust at a special assembly on diabetes at the Clifton Hunter High School on Friday, 2 December.
About 400 students from Years 7 and 8 attended to learn more about diabetes.
Maegan Samuel, a 12-year-old student, told the assembly she has had Type 1 Diabetes since birth, how she has to take regular insulin shots and explained diabetes symptoms to them.
“Unfortunately, her condition is a life-long condition and one that requires a lot of effort and attention to manage on a day-to-day basis,” Ms Rowlandson said. “Fortunately, Maegan is handling her condition very well and I know her mother is one of her greatest allies and supporters. She makes an excellent role model and we are very happy for her.”
The assembly included an audio-visual presentation by the Canadian visitors who were among the Team Diabetes Canada members who took part in the marathon and featured scenes of Team Diabetes runners in Reykjavik, Iceland during a marathon held there in 20 August.
“It was a pleasure to meet with the staff and students at Clifton Hunter High School. They should be applauded for all their efforts to raise awareness about diabetes and the harsh realities. In some way, we hope that Team Diabetes Canada’s participation at the Grand Cayman Marathon has contributed to these efforts,” Mr. DeFina said.
The school also held a healthy food cooking demonstration and nutritional showcase for students.
“We are very proud to have been part of this event, particularly as schools are places where the incidence rates for both Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is increasing,” Ms Rowlandson said. “This recent partnership supported awareness about diabetes while reinforcing a healthy and active lifestyle.”
She said the Cayman Islands Diabetes Charitable Trust is offering to sponsor school-wide screening for Type 2 Diabetes and hopes a core group of teens with Type 1 Diabetes, several of which are Clifton Hunter students, will be a part of this initiative.
“Friday’s activities were very valuable in many ways and we are looking forward to the same messages going out to parents at the PTA meeting on Thursday, 8 December,” said school principal Steven Geraghty. “It is clear that a lot of our students have relevant family history and overweight tendencies that pre-dispose them to diabetes and it is important that we nip these trends in the bud to support their future health and prosperity”.
The children who attended the morning’s assembly were also told about the upcoming Cayman National Charity 5k Walk/Run which will be held on January 7, 2012, at Camana Bay. Registration is currently open and all proceeds of the event will benefit the Cayman Islands Diabetes Charitable Trust. All students and their families are encouraged to join in the event and walk their dogs at the same time.
The Clifton Hunter High School is also taking part in a regular student support group sponsored by the Cayman Islands Diabetes Charitable Trust and Full of Beans. The group provides a healthy and sympathetic forum for students with diabetes, their peers, faculty and other supporters to come together to discuss their achievements and challenges.
“We are very happy to support any schools’ efforts that will make a difference in the lives of students living with diabetes, as well as efforts that help counteract worrisome health trends. We are particularly excited about sponsoring projects focused on food and nutrition which play a very important role in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels and caloric intake, and wish to support diabetes advocacy in youth at the same time,” Ms. Rowlandson said.