Dothan, AL - According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 13,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. A local day camp is aiming to help these kids learn how to manage the disease.
It may look like a typical summer camp with kids running, playing capture the flag and making new friends, but it’s much more. Every kid big and small has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“Camp Sugar Falls helps these kids take control of their disease instead of their disease taking control of them,” said Pediatrician Claude Ashley, Southeastern Pediatric Association.
The four day camp at Landmark Park is in its fourth year.
Southeastern Diabetes Education Services program director, William Parkhurst said, “It gives kids the ability to connect and build a network with kids with the same disease. It’s really important for them to be able to make those connections for them to realize that other kids are doing the same things they are.”
Parkhurst understands that first hand. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than two decades ago and has been going to camps like this since.
“Nobody really understood what I was going through. It was a great opportunity for me to realize this was doable. This was manageable.”
It’s not all arts and crafts or scavenger hunts, each afternoon the kids are learning to manage their disease in education sessions.
“I’m learning how to control my diabetes much better. I’m learning about new things. Like today, I just learned about the diabetic control dog,” said Cameron Burleson, 13.
There have also been sessions on nutrition and stress.
“We want to make sure we are giving them tools and teachable moments they can use in their day-to-day life to help them manage diabetes better,” said Parkhurst.