Kerry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2004 and uses an insulin pump to manage her blood glucose levels. The pump helps her manage her disease, as well as an unpredictable daily schedule. This flexibility, combined with the assistance of her health care team, has allowed her to pursue her dreams. She first became involved with Youth With Diabetes as a camper and is now the general manager.
“Diabetes is not an easy condition to manage. It is often frustrating and taxing, especially when my sugars are bouncing up and down all day. But with the education from my healthcare team, I can understand the factors causing these fluctuations and take proactive measures to get back on track. This allows me to take control and live a happy, fulfilled life.
“I am currently studying for a Masters of Science in diabetes epidemiology at the University of Pretoria, and also serve as the general manager for a registered nonprofit organization, Youth With Diabetes (YWD). Now in existence for 10 years, YWD was established to address the lack of diabetes education for children living with diabetes, as well as at-risk patients in the general public.
“I started my journey with YWD by attending its very first diabetes camp in 2005, and have served in a number of roles. Now as general manager, I help fundraise for all YWD activities, serve as the organization’s official spokesperson, coordinate diabetes camps and generate diabetes educational material.
“Being exposed to the struggles that children with diabetes face has inspired me to integrate my scientific background with the passion I have for this chronic condition. It has been my launching pad into diabetes research from a health management perspective.
“Through IDF’s Young Leaders In Diabetes program, I learned of a lack of diabetes medical resources in many countries, especially insulin and test strips. I was shocked to discover the limited availability of glucose test strips in South African public health facilities. This prompted me to investigate the use of a structured self-monitoring blood glucose routine to reduce HbA1c in Type 2 diabetes patients using insulin.
“I am currently running a pilot clinical trial on this newly designed intervention for my Masters project. I plan to use the results to advocate for test strips to be put on national tender so that regardless of location, diabetes patients in South Africa will have the resources to test their blood glucose levels and be empowered to make decisions regarding their treatment and diet.”
“Education is empowering. Education means more than acquiring knowledge. Education allows ambitions to grow with the increased awareness of what is possible.”
“This is exactly what people living with chronic conditions need: confirmation that whatever dreams they have are still in every way possible, perhaps just with some support.”
Youth With Diabetes (YWD) is a nonprofit organisation created specifically to help kids, teens and young adults living with diabetes, and is run by teens who have diabetes. Objectives include education for youth living with diabetes, raising diabetes awareness within the public, establishing support groups and promoting a healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes. Every year, YWD runs 14 camps throughout South Africa, as well as in Namibia and Botswana, serving more than 370 children.
The International Diabetes Foundation Young Leaders in Diabetes program works to enhance the lives of young people living with diabetes. The Young Leaders are committed to raising awareness of diabetes by being a powerful voice for prevention, education, access to quality care, improved quality of life and the end of discrimination worldwide.