Cape Town - November is National Diabetes Month, and in an effort to create awareness and harness support for persons living with type one diabetes, the Sweet Life Diabetes community has launched the Wear Blue for Diabetes initiative this Friday.
Members of the public are encouraged to snap a photo of themselves online with the #WearBlueForDiabetes tag on Friday. Schools, workplaces and communities are encouraged to take part in the awareness initiative.
Co-founder of Sweet Life Diabetes Community, Bridget McNulty, said that the initiative aims to spread awareness around Type 1 diabetes in schools and communities across South Africa.
“Type 1 diabetes affects 10% of people living with diabetes and is commonly found in children. Symptoms are not commonly known to parents and teachers, leading to children only being diagnosed after they fall extremely ill. By creating awareness about the symptoms we can get children diagnosed faster, before they get very sick.”
McNulty said that the initiative also aimed to show support to children and adults living with Type 1 diabetes and to show them that they are not alone.
“The condition itself is quite taxing and difficult to manage as it requires one to take insulin shots before each meal. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, is not lifestyle-related, is not preventable and has no cure.”
McNulty, who has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 14 years, said that the symptoms of include extreme thirst, extreme hunger, increased need to urinate, fatigue, blurred vision and weight loss.
“We have packaged digital awareness packages to be distributed to schools across the Western Cape. The readily available #WearBlueForDiabetes digital package includes a video story about Type 1 diabetes, a voice note story, a printable poster, a speaker's guide, a teacher's guide to diabetes and a community resource list.”
Cameron Hendricks, mother of a 19-month-old toddler living with Type 1 diabetes, said that children living with it face many challenges which are exacerbated by the public’s lack of knowledge on the condition.
“I am in the process of finding a creche for my son. The sad reality I am faced with is that greater society is not well informed about Type 1 diabetes or equipped to cater for children living with the disease. Out of 15 crèches I visited, only one is able to cater for my son’s needs.”
Hendricks said that children living with Type 1 diabetes are affected daily by a number of things, including the quantity and consistency of their diet. They have foods they may not eat and have to always be in a controlled environment where they have to take their insulin shots. She added that because of this, her son may not attend sleepovers and has to have a monitored diet.
Hendricks said that she was excited about the initiative, which will help educate society on type one diabetes, helping to create more inclusive spaces for children living with the condition.