Get your mouse ready! The Diabetes Education & Camping Association — the organization that brings education resources and support to the 185 diabetes camps in North America — needs your help (in the form of clicks) to win the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.
Pepsi might seem like an unlikely source of funding, but DECA is in the running for a $50,000 grant to launch DStory - My Life with Diabetes, a video series "that will empower kids with diabetes to tell the world their stories through video." Campers will shoot and edit their own stories, and DECA will use the videos to help raise money for more kids to attend diabetes camp. You can vote every day from now until December 31st.
The idea for a video series came about when DECA produced a series of "day in the life" training videos for staff. Lorne Abramson, the Executive Director of the DECA, explains, "When we were doing filming, we met a lot of kids. Suddenly you realize every kid has a story about their diabetes. Lots of them are really cool and interesting. We thought, 'what if we got a grant to produce a videos in which the kids could voice how diabetes has impacted them, and at the same time, talk about what kind of impact diabetes camp has had on them?''"
The DECA organization itself was launched in the mid-90s in response to the American Diabetes Association pulling back from its work with diabetes camps. Running a diabetes camp was filled with risk, but in when various representatives from diabetes camps across the US held a meeting, Lorne says, "We made a decision to create something that would be specifically aimed at serving absolutely nothing else besides diabetes camp." Thus, DECA was born.
Since then, DECA has created "best practices tools" for diabetes camp management; educational conferences which focus on camp structure, such as youth leadership development; programming, and training on diabetes; medical management; and nutrition education. They have also launch DTREAT, an annual retreat for young adults ages 18-25 with type 1 diabetes that is entering its third year.
If you ask Lorne, he'll tell you that diabetes camp is the most important thing you can do for your child. "I think that kids who go to camp have a huge advantage over those who don't," he says. "It has nothing to do with diabetes; it has to do with independence and expanding outside their family horizons." Lorne adds that the concern he most often hears from parents about camp is the safety issue, which he says is an unnecessary worry. "Where else could your child with diabetes ever be surrounded 24 hours a day by a huge medical staff and well-trained counseling staff that are knowledgeable about diabetes?"
Lorne became involved with diabetes camp after his daughter was diagnosed with type 1 in 1985. After 25 years of working with camps, and 15 years working with DECA, Lorne says, "I love the organization. It's got a lot of heart."
Registration for many diabetes camps will begin in January, so if you're looking for a camp for your child, DECA has a list of nearly every diabetes camp in the country and in Canada. There's bound to be one close to you!
And as for the Pepsi Refresh Challenge: please don't forget to vote!