Upcoming camp at Weber State offers activities, education for children with diabetes
OGDEN — When kids attend the diabetes camp at Weber State University, they quickly learn they are in the majority.
Most of the time, kids with Type I diabetes are in the minority according to Eddie Hill, associate professor of the department of health, physical education and recreation at WSU. In fact, they may be the only student at their school with the autoimmune disease.
“About one in 300 kids have Type I diabetes and some statistics even say it’s one in 250,” Hill said. “The disease prevents your pancreas from making insulin, so you have to manage with injections and monitoring your blood sugar.”
This year, Hill launched REACH Weber, which stands for Recreate, Educate, Advocate and Climb Higher. The goal is to provide fun for youth and their families while learning how to live a healthy lifestyle with Type I diabetes.
“We treat them as kids first and someone with diabetes second,” Hill said. “When I brought the program to Weber State, there was huge support for it because of the need for a year-round program.”
Hill said the camps provide physical activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking and swimming with a pinch of education for the young participants.
“We’ll talk about how the rock climbing affected their blood sugar, for instance,” Hill said. “Through our camps, we’re hoping they’ll realize that going out and exercising or being physically active will help them effectively manage their blood sugar.”
The kids stay active, but they also have a chance to connect with others who have Type I diabetes, so they also learn they’re not alone.
“There are other kids out there with this disease and we have support systems for you,” Hill said.”And it’s not just for the kids with Type I diabetes. It’s for their families as well. Everyone in the family should be living a healthy lifestyle. Not just the child with diabetes.”
The camps include a monthly, one-day camp for kids ages 10-16, a family diabetes day camp for youth 6-17 and a tween-teen camp for youth 11-17. The first family camp was held in April, and because of its already growing popularity, the tween-teen camp next month is already full. In September, the program will host monthly day camps on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and another family diabetes camp will be held in the fall and spring.
“Another great thing about this is it’s all free. It’s all been funded through generous donors,” Hill said. “And we have a lot of volunteers. Everyone also gets a free lunch.”
More information is available at www.weber.edu/REACH-WEBER. A link for sign ups will be up and running in the coming days.