A feeling of wanting to “give back” is often sensed by teens and young adults who have type 1 diabetes. Many want to help other children and families managing type 1― to “give back” in a way to those that helped them along the way in learning to live with diabetes.
Three young women are doing exactly that: Michelle Alemi, Julia Sautter and Cate Mars. Their contributions of raising awareness and supporting others affected by diabetes are quite impressive.
At the December 2012 Diabetes Parent Support Network (DPSN) meeting held at CHOP, Michelle, Julia and Cate provided child care and programming for children with diabetes and their siblings. Their contribution allowed parents attending the Support Network meeting to have peace of mind that their children were being cared for by someone who is medically aware of their child’s condition (from a personal perspective). They also provided an opportunity for children to meet with other children (and their siblings) living with type 1. For many, that was the first time they had met other children with type 1 diabetes.
Michelle Alemi, age 21, is a junior at Villanova College, studying to be a nurse. Diagnosed with type 1 at age 16, Michelle babysits several children with type 1. Michelle has been instrumental in helping parents in the DPSN to find babysitters with whom to entrust their children with diabetes.
Julia Sautter, age 15, is a Girl Scout and is providing a community service though the DPSN childcare program. She and her mother, Jackie, (who is a Girl Scout troop leader for 6-year-old girls) brought in arts and crafts projects for the children. Julia was diagnosed at age 9. She is also active in swim team.
Cate Mars is the American Diabetes Association’s 2013 Tour de Cure Youth Ambassador. She is committed to raising awareness of diabetes, working toward a cure and helping others with type 1. Diagnosed at age 6, Cate plays soccer for a travel team and looks forward to going back to the ADA Camp Freedom, and is working toward becoming a camp counselor in the next few years.
All three of these young women recognize the importance of having someone understand what it is like to manage a chronic condition like diabetes. Realizing that there have been parents, family, friends and providers that have helped them — they too want to mentor others. The CHOP Diabetes Parent Support Network is the welcome recipient of their actions.