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Diabetes Sidekick’ to support students

Anna Boarini | Monday, September 12, 2011


Starting this semester, students with diabetes will have a resource for support and advice on how to adjust to living on a college campus.

Junior Joe Williams, who had diabetes, began the “Diabetes Sidekick” program to help students with the disease transition to living in a new environment.

“When you’re at home, you have your parents to remind you to take your insulin,” Williams said. “When you’re in the dining hall, you’re going to have a little apprehension about giving yourself a shot.”

Williams got the idea after giving a presentation about the transition from high school to college, and managing diabetes as a college student. 

“There was a pretty obvious need for a better understanding of management when you go to college,” he said.

Williams said he wanted to figure out a way to help students in this transitional period.

“I thought I could start a group that would help people, especially incoming freshman, better understand how to manage their blood sugar,” he said.

During the summer, Williams worked more on this idea and spoke with Health Services to figure out how to bring the club to fruition. 

Williams said the program  will help new students transition from living with diabetes at home,  to college, where the support system is far away.

Williams said community and support are two vital aspects of the group.

“This is a place where people can come and say, ‘I need help with this,'” he said. “And it’s a place where people can understand what’s going on.”

For Williams, the hardest part of transitioning to college was prioritizing his diabetes. 

“You’re on your own schedule, it’s hard to prioritize,” he said. “When you’re trying to take on all these other things, it’s difficult to take time to check your sugars.”

He also said learning what to eat in the dining hall can be difficult for diabetic students. 

“The advice I usually give to new students is to take your insulin before you get to the dining hall and eat,” he said. “It’s just easier.”

He said the support system will likely be modeled off of the “big sister, little sister” concept used in many female dorms.

Williams said there will be formal meetings for the first few weeks. After that, partners will meet on their own time. 

“We will sponsor several guest speakers throughout the academic year and will participate in local fundraising events,” he said.

The program’s first event will be a diabetes walk Sept. 18 to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

The first club meeting will take place Monday Sept. 19 at St. Liam Hall Room 300. Interested students can contact Williams at jwilli31@nd.edu.