According to the American Diabetes Association, “Since Leonard F.C. Wendt, MD, opened the doors of the first diabetes camp in Michigan in 1925, the concept of specialized residential and day camps for children with diabetes has become widespread throughout the U.S. and many other parts of the world. In 2011, approximately 30,000 children attended diabetes camps in North America and over 16,000 more campers participated in one of the 180 diabetes camps throughout the rest of the world. The mission of camps specialized for children and youth with diabetes is to facilitate a traditional camping experience in a medically safe environment.”
Diabetes Youth Families (DYF) is an extraordinary example of this! They have been around for over 75 years and have served at least 50,000 individuals that includes children, teens and families affected by type-1 diabetes. Just last year alone, they took care of 2,050 individuals. The Organization offers summer education programs that are 6-12 days in length plus 1-day and weekend education programs throughout the year. In the very early years, they saw 50-100 kids each summer but as the program grew, they offered multiple sessions in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. In the 1980’s, they introduced family camps which included parents and siblings. In 2001, they started to offer programs beyond the summer camp season and cater to year-round support. Many families have taken advantage of the year-round program calendar to network and benefit from emotional support.
In the unique environment they have created, not only is there formal diabetes education and care, but life changing moments of learning and reflection that take place around the intimate campfires, meal times and rest hours as well. Moments like these help the families know that they are not alone in living with this condition. Once managed properly and equipped with the knowledge and know-how, they can live a happy and fulfilling life as more confident and hopeful people.
DYF gave us a testimony when they asked a parent “Why camp?” They attended DYF’s Bearskin Meadow camp located in the Sequoia National Forest, 65 miles east of Fresno, California.
The parent said “We got to Bearskin and watched our 10 year old relax for the first time since he was diagnosed because he didn’t have to explain his shots to anyone or answer the question, “Does that hurt?” when he tested his blood sugar. He got to be just a kid again, rather than a kid with diabetes. That was Bearskin Magic for him. And then there was the night I woke up and saw the stars and the Perseid meteor shower because there was no roof over my head, except for the trees, and that was the Bearskin Magic for me. Nine years later, my son had been to DYF’s Family Camp, Teen Camp and Leader-in-Training camps, and is now a counselor and the miracle of Bearskin is that, when my son chose to go to a University in Scotland, we knew he could take care of himself and would be fine because Bearskin had taught him how to LIVE with diabetes.”
This Spring 2015, Uniform Advantage will donate $1 from the sale of each “Diabetes for a Cure White” print to the Diabetes Youth Families in support of the fight against diabetes. The total donation is expected to equal more than $3,000.
About Diabetes Youth Families
In 1938, Dr. Mary B. Olney, a pioneering physician from UC San Francisco, took 19 children with type-1 diabetes to camp to teach them how to better manage their condition. Dr. Olney believed that children diagnosed with diabetes could live healthy and productive lives by learning how to care for their disease via a complex management system. Today, Diabetes Youth Families (DYF) still holds true to that philosophy, creating opportunities for children and teens which are equal to that of their peers who do not have diabetes. DYF also recognizes the impact that diabetes can have on a family unit and is dedicated to supporting the parents, caregivers and siblings who are affected. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for children, teens and families affected by diabetes, and to provide education and recreation within a supportive community, encouraging personal growth, knowledge and independence.
So many people are affected by Diabetes, let’s help each other take better care of each other’s health and help support great charities like Diabetes Youth Families! What more can we do to help?