Andrés just wants to go to camp.
Eleven-year-old Andrés Alba of Elburn, Illinois, has a strong interest in math and science. The Illinois Mathematical and Science Academy (IMSA) offers an all-day summer camp for students like Andrés who want to learn more about science, math and technology. Andrés wanted to attend a week-long IMSA camp this summer, but he hit a stumbling block, just because he has type 1 diabetes.
Andrés, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, lives a happy, normal life.
He also wears an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). He is well-versed in his diabetes care, but due to his age, he needs assistance at times. When he experiences high or low blood glucose, his judgment can be affected.
Andrés has attended other summer camps in the past. Support systems were put in place that to help make sure that Andrés stayed medically safe while he attended those camps. For example, someone would contact Andrés’ mother, Adriana, during the day to update her about his blood glucose numbers, and together they would decide if his insulin treatment needed to be adjusted. This system worked very well and the camp directors supported it.
Based on his family’s previous camp experience, Andrés expected to be able to attend the IMSA camp.
This was particularly true because IMSA’s regular camp program (run during the school year) fully accommodates students with diabetes. But after researching the summer camp, Adriana learned that a registered nurse would only be available until noon each day.
When she asked about diabetes care in the afternoons, she was told by a few of the camp directors that they could not offer any options for afternoon care. They did not propose anything to ease Adriana’s concerns. Adriana wondered who would be there for Andrés after the camp nurse left each day — and if he could even attend at all.
Adriana was frustrated. And because the situation seemed unfair, she told the camp directors that she would contact the American Diabetes Association® and the local media.
She spoke with one of the Association’s legal advocates, who shared specific information about the anti-discrimination laws that applied under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Under the law, the IMSA camp needed to offer accommodations so Andrés could attend.
Adriana wrote a letter to the camp that spelled out this information. She also reached out to her local media about the issue. A local television station ran a comprehensive interview of Andrés and Adriana. The segment received a lot of attention, especially because the reporter himself had first-hand knowledge of type 1 diabetes and really understood the issue.
As a result of Adriana’s efforts — as guided by the American Diabetes Association — the IMSA camp reached out to coordinate the management of Andrés’ diabetes care. The camp’s staff nurse, as well as the teachers who will have Andrés in their classes, will be trained on his diabetes care. After the nurse leaves each day, the trained classroom teachers will be available.
Adriana has a lot of praise for the Association staff who helped Andrés: “They provided the expert support and direction I needed. The Association gave me superior information and guidance about what to do — both from its national and local staff. Andrés is thrilled to attend this summer. Thank you.”
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 Andrés.