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Hawley Elementary School kindergartener Gracie Arbogast was first diagnosed with diabetes when she was 3½ years old, her mother Stephanie Moody explained. Since the school year began, Gracie’s kindergarten class and teacher, Deborah Lubin Pond, have been supportive, in small and large ways.
“Deb was supportive from the very beginning,” Ms Moody said. “Through the year she has done everything she can to help. The children understand about diabetes and help [Gracie] understand she is not different. I never thought it would be such a community outreach.”
Last month, as the class was learning about Earth Day, Ms Pond said her class decided to put its slogan, “Take care of the Earth, take care of each other,” into action.
“We decided that in order to take care of the Earth, we would recycle as many bottles and cans as possible. Many people in our Hawley family contributed, as well as friends outside of the school,” said Ms Pond, adding that all of the money raised was donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) under Team Gracie, Gracie’s family team that will be walking in the JDRF One Walk in Danbury in October to raise money for type 1 diabetes research. The class raised $75 and school families and friends contributed more to the efforts, according to Ms Pond.
Ms Pond said Gracie and her family have taken time to help educate her students about type 1 diabetes throughout the school year. Since the class will not be together in October, when the JDRF One Walk will be held, Ms Pond said the class decided to walk around the school’s gymnasium on May 5 in honor of the walk.
“The original plan was to walk outside, but the rain came, so we walked in the gym,” said Ms Pond. “It was so very special. Each child in my class made a Team Gracie headband, and signs to carry when they walked. The signs read ‘#TypeNone,’ since instead of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, we all are hoping for the day to come when there is none.”
Hawley staff and parents joined the class for the gym walk.
“The outpouring of love and support from everyone was amazing,” Ms Pond said. “In the end, my heart is full because our kindergartners understand that even at the young age of 5 and 6, they can make a very positive impact on this world. I am so very proud of them.”
Students in the class have been helping Gracie throughout the year, Ms Moody said. Students volunteer to walk with her to the nurse’s office, so Gracie does not have to go alone. Her fellow students also help Gracie keep track of her glucose monitor. Ms Moody said the whole class listens for beeps and checks with Gracie to see “what her number is.”
Near the start of the year, Ms Moody said she shared a few books with the class so the students would learn about diabetes.
“They absolutely loved it,” said Ms Moody.
After the walk at the school, Ms Moody said Gracie “was so excited, and she felt so much support and love. She let us know with all this love and support that one day there will be a cure for diabetes.”
Before Gracie was diagnosed, Ms Moody said the family was unaware of the signs and symptoms. Gracie stopped napping at the age of 1 and she became tired all of the time. She was extremely thirsty. She was potty trained, but she started wetting the bed. When the family visited the doctor, Gracie’s blood sugar was checked. The doctors shared that Gracie’s symptoms were caught before more prominent symptoms began.
Ms Moody said parents should be aware and should monitor their children for thirst, tiredness, and a fruity smell on the breath. She said parents who are concerned about symptoms should bring their child/children to the doctor and ask for a glucose test.
Team Gracie is raising money for the October JDRF One Walk online at www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?fr_id=7030&pg=team&team_id=231260&ref_px=10351403.