TUSCALOOSA, AL - Eliminating certain foods and drinks from their diet, meticulously counting carbohydrates at every meal, carefully monitoring blood sugar and injecting shots of insulin into themselves multiple times are the daily necessities for children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes - an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas' insulin production is impaired.
Children with this condition face challenges, but can still delight in the exciting pastime that is summer camp. With a bright and lively environment, a week at camp can be a cheerful and efficient means of teaching children how to improve their health.
Created to benefit children ages five to 15 with Type 1 diabetes by giving them an opportunity to bond with others with the condition and simultaneously receive appropriate education, Camp Seale Harris was founded in 1949 and spread to Tuscaloosa in 2012. This year it was held from July 11 to July 15 at the University of Alabama’s Robert E. Witt Student Activity Center. The summer camp moves to Birmingham to start on July 17.
According to Tuscaloosa News, the camp educates children in administering insulin, eating and drinking healthy, calculating carbohydrates and managing exercise through games. At Camp Seale Harris, the children get to do typical summer camp activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, archery, rock wall climbing, relay games, basketball and more. The difference is the activities in which the campers participate help administer proper diabetes education for the activities so they can apply it at school and with friends and family at home.
Unfortunately for children with Type 1 diabetes, there is no cure yet, so it is necessary for them to carry out each safety measure required everyday in order to remain healthy. The camp is a safe space as it has peer counselors ages 16 to 25 living with Type 1 diabetes there to help with education and activities and nurses and volunteer physicians are there to monitor and administer care.
Similar to Camp Seale Harris, which provides education and support, the University of Alabama has a student-led organization on campus entitled
DiET (Diabetes Education Team
), whose goal is to provide information about diabetes and health to people in underserved areas that would not otherwise receive it. It not only educates surrounding communities on proper exercise and nutrition, but it also gives healthy management advice to those already living with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Because there is no cure, education about the condition and how to manage it is an effective way to keep children and adults living with it safe.