Why Join the Norwich and District Diabetes Youth Group

Why it is important to join a support group

There are several reasons why a diabetes support group is worth looking into. For those in Norwich the support group that focuses on children with Type 1 diabetes from birth to 18 really has helped in many measurable and non-measurable ways.

The aim of the Norwich and District Youth Group really is to build a frame of networking not only between the parents and families of children with the condition but also between the kids themselves who often think they are the only ones needing to test their blood or have injections.

Networking

The networking, which is created through family activity days, allows the kids to interact in a fun and non-clinical way allowing parents to talk, share ideas, support each other and often become friends. This networking helps parents and a family build an understanding of actual handling and management of the condition and is a great support to the advice and care given by the hospital and GP. The best experts in diabetes care are actually the parents who have to deal with it on a daily basis. Experience is easily and quickly passed on to parents of newly diagnosed children and ideas on how to handle difficult situations such as ill days, holidays, Christmas even school trips can be shared.

Activities

The activities allow the children to also see other kids and how they handle their diabetes and help to normalise what initially many children think about what is happening to them. They realise that they can do pretty much anything they put their mind to. One example of how a support group has really helped is at an activity where 25 kids spent the weekend at a professional activity centre at Sheringham without their parents. Many of these kids have never been away from home and are fairly newly diagnosed. At this weekend recently 2 children who have had diabetes for 4 years and who had never injected themselves before came away injecting themselves for the first time. This is a major achievement and was achieved simply through them seeing other children injecting themselves. Taking responsibility for their own condition and realising they can survive without Mum and Dad is often a massively liberating experience for them.

Fundraising

In Norwich the children also benefit from the work the group do to raise funds. They receive reward vouchers funded by the group handed out by the specialist Nurses and Doctors during clinic appointments for showing good diabetes control, reduced HBa1C results or for things like injecting themselves for the first time of for testing themselves for the first time. For a young child to receive a voucher really helps them strive towards good control.

The support group also funds books for newly diagnosed families, which have been approved by the hospital. They are given out to all parents on diagnosis and help to build the parent knowledge of the condition and how to handle it.

Progress

Over the last few years the Norwich Youth Group really has began to really work well. They have organised lots of activities including an activity weekend for the 13 to 17 year olds, an activity weekend for the 8 to 12 year olds, Playbarn trips for newly diagnosed and 0 to 8 year olds, family ten pin bowling, picnics in the park, Summer Ball, Quasar/Laserquest, ice skating trips and an annual Christmas Party. There are also many activities planned for 2017!

The committee is lucky enough to have people on it from several backgrounds including a graphic designer who designs the newsletter and more recently a website designer who has built the website for the group.

In the past we have struggled to communicate across the membership and people were missing out. Now that we have a proper newsletter and website, we finally are able to communicate effectively across the membership base. The newsletter also helps the hospital and specialist nurses communicate any new news/advice and any specialist talks they are doing. Without the support group none of this would be possible.

The best way of getting the most out of a support group is to get involved, meet people and join in.