Hollywood, FL (July 2007) — Each and every parent of a child with diabetes can remember the day their child was diagnosed with this disease. Emotions ran the gamut of shock, despair, guilt and anger. There was so much to learn. Few really understood how a diabetes diagnosis would change the whole family. But one of the things that helped was to talk to others who were dealing with the very same issues.
The small group of parents who started the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation in 1971 found comfort in talking with other parents and giving hope to each other. They have continued this support system since the organization’s inception, but the circle of confidantes has grown exponentially over the years.
Recognizing the huge emotional need for “diabetes parents” to connect with others, the DRI Foundation has now formalized this diabetes support group by creating the PEP Squad: Parents Empowering Parents. By reaching out to families of newly diagnosed children, the members of the PEP Squad serve as mentors, listen and offer support, and instill hope that one day a cure will be found.
For the past several months, the 15-member group has been attending training sessions under the direction of social workers and psychologists Dr. Wendy Satin Rapaport, Dr. Carol Nudelman, and Ilene Vinikoor. Armed with a new brochure that answers many questions that typically arise – and many that don’t – these volunteers are spreading out into the community.
“Even though we’ve been living with diabetes and its daily challenges, the first thing we all admit is that we don’t have all the answers. Secondly, there’s not one answer that’s right for all families,” said Lynette Miller, a “squad leader” who worked with the DRI Foundation to develop the new brochure.
“Those first hours — right after the diabetes diagnosis — are a whirlwind. You’re at the hospital facing this devastating news. You’re dealing with doctors, nurses, blood glucose readings and shots. They send you home and you know without a doubt that your child’s life is literally in your hands. It’s truly overwhelming,” said Lynette, mother of four, one of whom has diabetes. “We hope this brochure will serve as a survival guide for newly diagnosed families.”
The brochure, titled “Your Child was Just Diagnosed with Diabetes…Now What?”, is a 12-page guide that breaks down the spectrum of emotions families face and acknowledges the exhausting barrage of questions, concerns and fears that inescapably come with a diabetes diagnosis. It also aims to remind parents that their child with diabetes is a child first and, as overwhelming as the regimen can seem, they will come to know a “new normal.”
Most importantly, the goal of this brochure and the mission of the diabetes support group are to bolster confidence that these families can meet the daily challenges of the disease, connect with other parents who have shared similar experiences, and hold on to hope for a future free from diabetes.