Launching Our Parent Ambassador Program!

College Diabetes Network National Team, Lisa Kava, and Jodee Martin, CDN Leadership Council Members

The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is thrilled to announce the first steps toward our new Parent Ambassador Program! Members of this Ambassador Program will offer their support to students on local campuses as they navigate life (and its sometimes unexpected challenges) in college.

This exciting new initiative was established by our Leadership Council to connect students with T1D families near their universities for assistance, guidance, or simply a friendly face. Parents and families of T1D kids of all ages may volunteer to engage T1D students who attend college in their hometown or city. Parent Ambassadors will serve as a support network to college students living with T1D away from home and who may need assistance from time to time. Some examples may be, but are not limited to:

•  Supporting a sick T1D college student who is having trouble getting numbers under control;

•   Helping connect a student with a nearby endocrinologist or other physicians;

•   Providing general guidance if and when needed; or,

•   Being there for a student whose family is not nearby in case of a diabetes-related emergency.

Of course, situations will vary depending upon the student and their comfort level – some students may feel comfortable simply knowing that you are there, while other relationships may evolve into a close bond. This is to be determined by you and the student. By being available to field questions, share experiences and provide support to college students living with diabetes in your area, you will foster an encouraging and engaged ecosystem where they may thrive with diabetes, not just survive with diabetes.

As the parent of a child with diabetes, you can understand the anxiety of sending your child out into the world on their own. By joining our program as a Parent Ambassador, you will help ease other parents’ worries by acting as a resource for young adults as they navigate this new chapter of independence.

Help the College Diabetes Network grow a symbiotic and resourceful ecosystem around students with diabetes all across the country. We are very excited to see this initiative blossom into a vast network of support and encouragement. Apply to serve as a Parent Ambassador today! Click here to show your interest in participating in this new initiative.

CDN would like to thank Lisa Kava and Jodee Martin, two dedicated parents of children with diabetes and members of the CDN Leadership Council, for their passion and drive in getting this initiative off the ground.  If you have any questions regarding the Parent Ambassador Program, please email: parents@collegediabetesnetwork.org. Read on to learn more about Lisa and Jodee, and how they came to find CDN!

Jodee:

Lisa and I met soon after my son, Eric, was diagnosed with T1D at age 8. Lisa’s son, Ben, had been diagnosed 4 years earlier, when he was four years old; it was suggested by a mutual friend that Ben might be a good mentor for Eric. I remember coming to meet Lisa and Ben in the park as an overwhelmed parent of a newly diagnosed T1D child and leaving with the feeling that I had a new friend and the beginning of a support system. 

Lisa’s positive relationship with her son’s school in the treatment of diabetes helped me navigate and chart a course forward with my own son’s school, which was less amenable to providing support for his new diagnosis. We continued having lunches, going to meetings and sharing notes on our children’s T1D obstacles and triumphs.  


We also eagerly digested and discussed newsworthy research and its potential impact on our children; we also co-hosted a lunch to meet a pilot patient who is successfully wearing Medtronic’s soon to be released AP system!

As the boys grew and matured, Lisa and I turned our thoughts to college. Lisa wanted to find the families who had successfully navigated the college process with T1D before us and gain from their wealth of knowledge and experience. Lisa and I had a different focus. She was most interested in how T1D students navigated the college lifestyle; I, on the other hand, was completely paralyzed by thoughts of Eric not waking up to overnight lows.  

Anecdotally, Lisa would call to ask me about the college process, and I would tell her that Eric was not going to college. Needless to say we were a perfect pair…Ms. Denial and Ms. Proactive.

Lisa’s conviction eventually led to us creating our Facebook Page; “T1D College Transition; a Parent’s Forum”. After forming the group we learned about the Parents of the College Diabetes Network Facebook Page and that the CDN had already made great headway in blazing that trail.

Lisa:

My 17 year old high school senior was diagnosed with T1D when he was 4 years old. I have always had a positive attitude regarding T1D, and taught my son from the start that it should not hold him back from anything in life he wants to do. When Ben became a junior in high school, I started thinking about the magnitude of the transition to college and all that it meant, especially for a child with T1D and his parents. There were so many thoughts that crossed my mind, including worrying about parties and drinking which are so prevalent in college life, middle of the night blood sugars and general day-to-day diabetes management while living away from home. While my son has always been responsible with his diabetes management, the thought of him living away from home with T1D really scared me. 

Jodee and I have shared stories and exchanged information with one another related to raising a child with T1D over the years. When we started to talk about the idea of our kids going away to college, we each had a number of concerns and questions. We began to wonder about accommodations in college for T1D students, sick days and so much more. We realized we both had so many questions relating to the transition to college life with T1D, and decided to start a Facebook group to discuss these issues both with other parents in our situation, as well as parents who have had experience with their T1D children away at college who we hoped would be able to shed some insight and provide answers.

The purpose of our Facebook group is to bring together parents of high school juniors and seniors with T1D along with of parents of T1D students currently in college in order to share experiences, thoughts, advice and concerns. We have also invited some young adults with T1D into the group who have been helpful in reflecting back on their college experiences. Their feedback has been invaluable, and I am so happy to have been able to connect with other parents in the same boat. We have had conversations on a range of topics and I love being able to support one another.

Through this group I learned of the College Diabetes Network. Jodee and I met with Christina in the spring of 2016. We could not have been more impressed at this incredible community she has built and the impact that it has had on so many college students with T1D. As a parent, I personally reached out to students who are chapter members of the CDN at various schools my son had been interested in applying to, and we were able to personally meet with some of these students on our college visits. It has been both inspiring and comforting for me to see T1D students thriving in college and the support network that the CDN provides. I am so excited to launch the Parent Ambassador Program, along with Jodee, as our first CDN Leadership Council initiative.

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The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide innovative peer based programs which connect and empower students and young professionals to thrive with diabetes.

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