Families in the North West have come together to form the first ever local club for children with Type 1 Diabetes and their families.
The T1 Club is based in Derry and gives local children from right across the North West region the chance to come together and develop friendships through regular meet-ups.
Those behind the initiative also aim to grow awareness over Type 1 Diabetes. Edelle Irwin, whose 11-years-old son, Shane, was diagnosed with the condition four years ago, said the group was the first of its kind locally .
“We are all parents of ‘wee ones’ with Type 1 Diabetes and what we did was we got together to take them out so they could meet each other and develop friendship,” she said.
“The wee ones picked the T1 name themselves and we meet up once a month.”
Edelle said that with more and more children being diagnosed over recent years, the families felt it was important to set something up were these children could meet socially, away from hospitals and clinics.
“Medically the children get check ups once every two months and the medical support is brilliant,” Edelle said.
“ There is a parent’s support group but my view and the view of the families and children coming is that the children need a bit of support. Through the Club, they are building friendships . They have Type 1 in common and are able to support each other through it. There’s a support network for them straight away. It’s a social group and they can come and meet other children and don’t feel alone.
“This takes them out of the clinical environment and they are all checking their blood sugars together. It’s normalising what they have to do.”
Edelle said that a lot of people didn’t realise Type 1 diabetes is completely different from Type 2 and that there were a lot more diagnosis in recent years.
“Up until a couple of years ago there wasn’t a whole lot of children diagnosed. There are more now and most of them are on five injections a day or the pump, and are constantly checking their bloods.”
Edelle said there has been growing interest recently in the club, with a number of offers of assistance from Oakleaf Medical, local pharmacies and from within the wider community, including help with developing the club’s logo. “One fellow with Type 1 Diabetes himself spoke to one of the mothers and offered to help with a gaelic training session,” she said. “People that have Type 1 diabetes know the struggles the wee ones are going through and if we can make that a wee bit easier we are all willing to do it.”
The T1 Club are now hoping to expand services over the coming months. “Along the way we want to create a bit of awareness around Type 1 , how it affects our children’s lives and show people what they have to deal with every day,” Edelle said.
It is also, she added, about challenging widespread misconceptions around Type 1. “It is not because they have had too much sugar, it is an auto-immune disease and is not because of their diet.”
.The next T1 Club meet up will take place at the Bowling Alley on Sunday, March 25 at 11am. For more information on the T1 Club, and the meet-ups, or to offer support on some way, check out their The T1 CLUB Children’s Diabetes Group Facebook page
TYPE 1 DIABETES
Diabetes.co.uk describe Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas to be destroyed. This in turn prevents the body from producing enough insulin to adequately regulate blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children, the condition can develop at any age.
Those with Type 1 need regular insulin administration either by injection or by insulin pump.
Symptoms, which the organisation has said should be acted upon immediately, are: above average thirst, tiredness during the day, needing to urinate regularly, unexplained weight loss.
The vast majority- around nine in every ten - of young people with diabetes suffer from Type 1. Once diagnosed, children are usually referred to a specialist.
For more information see: www.diabetes.co.uk/