Living with Type 1 diabetes
World Diabetes Day is a time to raise awareness about the disease but also an opportunity for those who live with it to celebrate their ability to carry on with a normal life.
Chris Jarvis is an example of this: An Olympic rower diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 14 but didn’t back down from his dreams.
A special guest at Peace Bridge Public School on Tuesday morning, Jarvis told close to 300 students about his story and how important it is for them to know about the condition, along with how much people living with it need understanding from others.
“We need our friends to support us – that’s why I was able to accomplish so much more,” said Jarvis, a member of Team Canada from 2002 to 2009 who competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
He is a founder of I Challenge Diabetes, an organization that was started after he met another rower named Heather Van der Geest who competed with him on the national team.
Jarvis feels kids who have the disease are often dealt a bad hand as their condition is not a result of their own actions.
“Kids who have nothing to do with their own health choices are diagnosed with diabetes,” he said.
One area of focus in Jarvis’ talk on Tuesday, the first of four in the day, was what people go through testing their blood and injecting insulin several times a day, always having to be on alert if their blood sugar levels are too high or low, and the many other effects that are at the forefront of how people with diabetes are perceived.
“It’s important that people don’t brush it off and think we eat too much sugar,” said Jarvis, who is from Grimsby.
“We put a lot of work into our health,” he added.
Sam DiMarco, a student at Centennial Secondary School in Welland, has been joining Jarvis on his tour of Niagara schools.
He is also a Type 1 diabetic who shared part of his story with students on Tuesday.
“We’re normal people living normal lives and we can do what we want,” he said.
For more information about Jarvis and his organization, visit www.ichallengediabetes.org.
Jarvis is a Pan-Am Games gold medalist. His group received charitable status in 2015 and he has been speaking at schools for about 12 years. November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
Olympic rower Chris Jarvis and Centennial Secondary School student Sam DiMarco at Peace Bridge Public School on Tuesday. Jarvis and DiMarco, both Type 1 diabetics, visited several schools in Niagara on Tuesday for World Diabetes Day.