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Surfing brings a Smile for Type 1 Kids

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

A group of WA kids hit the beach on 12 February, in an annual event designed to show young people they can live a full life with type 1 diabetes. The 34 kids are members of the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, a world-class diabetes support service located in Perth’s northern suburbs.

Type 1 diabetes is one the most complex self-managed medical condition on earth. Managing type 1 requires daily insulin injections just to stay alive, as well as complex and often overwhelming 24/7 blood glucose management. A parent of a child living with Type 1 must make around 180 extra decisions each day, just to manage their child’s condition. This places a mental and social strain on parents, carers, and the child.

Children between the ages of 6 and 16 took to their boards, with experts from local surfing firm Go Surf and the Family Centre team offering education, guidance, and support throughout the day. Participants learnt skills for ocean awareness, water safety and surfing techniques in a safe and controlled environment.

“For many kids with type 1, the idea of going surfing at the beach with their mates seems like an impossible dream,” says Benjamin Jardine, CEO of the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre.

But Mr. Jardine says it does not have to be this way.

“A type 1 diagnosis doesn’t mean people have to give up their hopes and dreams. This is a message we’re passionate about sharing. By bringing our committed and supportive type 1 community together at events like this, we enable people to see a world of opportunities that they might not have thought was possible,” Mr. Jardine noted.

“The waves were huge, but the smile on the kids’ faces were even bigger!”

The Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre was established in 2015 to support people with type 1 diabetes to live the life they choose. Since opening its doors, the Family Centre has built a thriving community in Western Australia, supporting people to face the challenges of type 1 diabetes with confidence.

The Family Centre's ground-breaking work won the Outstanding Charity Award at the 2018 Australian Charity Awards, and its team has been recognised both nationally and internationally.

About Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is a disease where the body cannot produce insulin, a hormone that is essential for processing carbohydrates in food. Although it can occur at any age, it usually develops in childhood. Type 1 affects more than 120,000 people in Australia, and 13,500 people in WA.

Type 1 in an autoimmune disease, which means the immune system suddenly starts to recognise the body's own cells - in this case, the beta cells which produce insulin - as 'enemies’ and destroys them. When the beta cells are destroyed, the body can no longer produce insulin. Insulin has a very important job in the body; it is responsible for turning glucose (which enters the bloodstream when a person eats carbohydrates) into energy.

A person diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is left dependent on injected insulin for the rest of their lives and must manage their blood glucose levels around-the-clock.

Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, although we know that it occurs in people with a certain genetic makeup. Type 1 diabetes is not lifestyle driven.

For more details visit this page.

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