Picture this: You have two sons, both in the same school district, and both excited to attend a school-sponsored summer camp with their friends. Your youngest son, a 6-year-old, will attend for the first time.
But along with the normal anxiety that accompanies a child going to camp, another looms large: This son lives with type 1 diabetes and may require extra care during the day. Then, after applying to the camp, only one son is accepted—your youngest is denied because of his diabetes. What would you do?
Angela Smith and Patrick Adam of Los Alamitos, California, faced this situation with their son, Brody, who hoped to join his older brother at their school district’s summer day camp program, Camp Fun in the Sun. Unfortunately, the Los Alamitos Unified School District didn’t feel that it could provide proper diabetes care for Brody, although it was familiar with Brody’s needs during the school year.
“When we first applied to the camp, we didn’t have any idea that Brody might be denied because of his diabetes. Particularly since he attends school in the same district that offers this summer camp—including [attending] the same after-school camp throughout the school year,” Angela explains.
“The district was familiar with his needs and how to test his blood sugar, [handle] snack times and so on,” Angela continues. We also made it very clear that since we work close by, we could be ‘on call’ and come to the camp as needed to be present to administer lunchtime insulin each day. At the time we weren’t aware that it’s unlawful for a school or camp to even require this.”
Brody faced discrimination because of his type 1 diabetes. Not only is it unlawful for parents to be required to be present for insulin administration, it’s also illegal to deny a child entry to public summer camp programs simply because of diabetes. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in instances like this.
Angela and Patrick weren’t satisfied with the school district’s rejection. They took to the internet to find a solution, quickly discovering that the American Diabetes Association® was there to help them advocate. Our Legal Advocacy team provided Brody’s parents with the backup they needed, such as information on federal protections and program obligations for public summer camp programs. We also supplied sample letters for the family to use, copies of Title II settlements and a fact sheet about the rights of children with diabetes at camp.
With this knowledge and information, Angela and Patrick were able to successfully advocate on Brody’s behalf: “After working with the Association, we forwarded this same information to the camp supervisor who had denied Brody’s acceptance. She advised it was being reviewed by the district’s legal representative. We waited nearly two weeks, but finally learned that Brody would be accepted into the summer camp program.”
After the Association provided information on the rights afforded to kids like Brody, the school system arranged for a nurse (the same one who leads Brody’s diabetes care at school) to train summer camp employees on how to assist with diabetes management. Finally, Brody could safely join his brother at Camp Fun in the Sun.
Without the Association’s resources, this story may have had a completely different outcome. “It was such a relief to feel like we had the support of a knowledgeable, credible organization,” Angela notes. “We had a whole team already advocating for Brody before we even knew it.”
Thanks to Angela and Patrick’s initiative and our dedicated Legal Advocates, Brody was able to enjoy a great summer camp experience—one that every child deserves.
“Brody had a very, very positive camp experience,” Angela reports. “We won’t let his diabetes stand in the way of having ‘normal,’ healthy, happy, exciting, educational and fun-filled days! We’re so thankful to have the support of the American Diabetes Association to help us educate, advocate and inspire positive changes.”
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 Brody.