August can be a particularly stressful time of year for parents, especially for those who have children with diabetes. Along with focusing on traditional back-to-school prep—like stocking up on school supplies, hitting the mall for fashionable fall clothes and scrambling to get to the last page of summer reading assignments—these parents also need to concentrate on ensuring their children’s health, safety and security.
Because the reality is that, diabetes management is 24/7 and doesn’t take a break when
your child boards the school bus and, your child’s school must be prepared to meet his or her diabetes. It’s frightening to think that there are some schools with no one trained or available to help kids who can’t manage their diabetes on their own. Some schools even prohibit kids with diabetes from taking part in extracurricular activities.
The American Diabetes Association helps to make sure kids with diabetes stay healthy at school and to give these parents peace of mind. Our Safe at School campaign works tirelessly to eliminate such problems and discrimination by helping families and schools develop plans to ensure all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their classmates and providing expert assistance and guidance when things don’t go according to plan.
The campaign provides free resources and tools, including advocacy materials and expert guidance provided by lawyers and professional advocates, plus workshops for parents and training modules that teach school staff about diabetes. The Association also fights for policy change and new state laws to make sure that both health and learning are fully supported.
It’s important to be aware of these federal laws as well as laws in your own state that protect children with diabetes. If you know what to expect from the school staff, you can make sure everyone is working on the same page.
The Association’s volunteers, like Robb Wilson, play a key role in the Safe at School campaign and other advocacy effort. Robb, a 58 year-old pharmacist living with type 2 diabetes, is one of the Association’s many volunteers fighting for the rights of children (and adults) with diabetes. He is a local advocacy chair, and has attended Call to Congress: Stop Diabetes, a biennial event in which Diabetes Advocates meet with members of Congress and their staffs in Washington, D.C., to promote legislation that makes life better for people with diabetes.
So why does he do all of this? It began when his grandchildren, Audrey and Ben, were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2. Robb became inspired to get involved with the Association: “It changed my whole career,” he says.
Robb joined up with the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, a community pharmacy health management program for patients with diabetes, where he learned about the Association’s Advanced School Advocacy Training program. As advocacy chair, Robb is now the go-to guy for the advocacy issues in his area, in particular Safe at School, and is devoted to fighting for the rights of students with diabetes.
“You can really make a difference by advocating,” he says. “You see results: You can see people getting treated correctly. And there’s nothing more exhilarating than working on something and seeing results.”
Join Robb by becoming a Diabetes Advocate today!
Still want to know more before your child straps on his or her backpack? The Association will hold a free Back to School Parent Advocacy Webinar on Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. EDT. You’ll learn more about Safe at School efforts and strategies to resolve common school diabetes care problems, federal and state law protections, available resources and how to get involved. You’ll also hear from parents who have been there—not only on behalf of their own children, but by working with many other families to help keep kids with diabetes safe at school. Space is limited, so sign up now!
Can’t make it? Free access to the recorded webinar will be available at http://www.diabetes.org/safeatschool shortly after the event.
Be sure to also join our Safe at School Facebook Chat on August 7 at 1 to 2 p.m. ET! Special guest Crystal Jackson, Director for Legal Advocacy, will answer fan questions live!
To learn more about our Safe at School campaign and how you can help keep your child with diabetes medically safe, visit http://diabetes.org/safeatschool or call 1-800-DIABETES for information and help.