By Jason Von Kundra of Sprouting Hope in Marion, VA
Sprouting Hope hosted a camp for twelve youth diagnosed with type one diabetes and a second camp for eight youth at risk for type two diabetes. The camps included activities on sugary beverages, nutritional labels, cooking, gardening, a nature walk, swimming, and various games involving exercise. Sprouting Hope partnered with the diabetes educator at the community hospital, local pediatricians, the Wellness Center, the Lutheran Camp and others to teach youth how to manage their sugar, diet, and exercise.
During a lesson on identifying and ranking the amount of sugar in common beverages, one nine year old participant revealed that she drinks way too much sugar. Feeling bad, we discussed other options that she could feel good about drinking, such as water and milk. Another child asked what a garden is, never having grown up with one. After experiencing the garden, learning how food is grown, exposes the children to where their food comes from, beyond simply a grocery store. Learning opportunities such as these were plentiful and rewarding over the two days of camps.
Another goal of the camp was to expose youth to healthy adults living with diabetes who led some of our activities. They gave advice about signs to watch, activities to avoid, and the importance of eating healthy. By teaching youth early, we hope to curb the impact of diabetes in the region and develop healthy behaviors for a more resilient community.