Kerry Harrison of Bellingham, Washington, can rest a little easier now when her daughter rides the school bus. Kiara, who is 11 years old and has type 1 diabetes, recently faced an episode of low blood glucose while riding the bus. Although she keeps glucose tabs in her backpack, on that particular day, Kiara didn’t have enough available. The bus driver pulled over and a fellow student gave Kiara a juice box to help. Kerry took this as a warning sign—it might happen again, and she needed a plan to help her daughter in case it did.
In January 2016 Kerry contacted the American Diabetes Association® for guidance.
She wanted to ask the school district to keep a supply of glucose tabs or other fast-acting sugar source on its buses for similar situations of hypoglycemia. One of the Association’s legal advocates explained that students with diabetes must be allowed to carry and access their own supplies while on school buses. But, she also said that the law does not specifically require school bus drivers to carry such supplies. So with this request, Kerry would be asking the school district to go above and beyond what the law requires.
Kerry decided to push for more than the law required.
She was looking out for the best interests of her daughter, as well as other children who have diabetes. So, after she received information and guidance from the legal advocate, Kerry contacted the school district and asked them to make glucose tabs available on their buses.
After considering her request, an assistant superintendent contacted Kerry with the answer that she wanted to hear.
- At the beginning of the school year, the school district would stock the first aid kit of each school bus with a supply of individual snack-sized Skittles. The candy would be supplied by parents.
- When a student needed fast-acting glucose for medical reasons, his or her own supplies would be the first source. But, if required, the Skittles in the first aid kit would be available as a back-up.
- During medical emergencies, the bus drivers would follow appropriate procedures to ensure the safety of all students on the bus.
Kerry sent a note to the legal advocate: “Good news. We won. Thank you for your help. If anyone else has the same issue, I am happy to share and help with the process.”
Through her advocacy Kerry proved that you can win in real life, without having to win in court. She also signed up to be a Diabetes Advocate for the Association. As an advocate, she will take action and voice support for diabetes-related legislation, programs and funding. Thank you, Kerry!
The American Diabetes Association leads the effort to prevent and eliminate discrimination against people with diabetes at school, at work and in other parts of daily life. If you need help, call 1-800-DIABETES or visit http://diabetes.org/gethelp.
Through our nationwide Safe at School program, the Association is dedicated to making sure that all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their peers. Visit our Safe at School website for information and resources.
Give the gift of fairness — donate now to help people with diabetes facing discrimination, just like Kiara.