Each year the University of Arizona hosts a summer Wellness Camp for Children with Diabetes, for kids with type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of being diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes is widespread and very debilitating in the Native American population.
The camp is held at Whispering Pines, near Prescott. Approximately 24 children from various Arizona tribes, including 14 from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, took part in this year’s camp, which started on June 1, and lasted for four days. The children were provided with education on ways to prevent diabetes, such as being physically active and monitoring their diet.
Dr. Joyce Helmuth, a pediatrician with the Salt River Clinic, had noticed in recent years that when the children return from the summer Wellness Camp, they still need to be reminded of what they learned. So on June 8, the children, their parents and some of the camp’s counselors participated in a summer Diabetes Day Camp here on the Community.
At the Diabetes Day Camp, participant and Community member Cheyanne Peeples, 14, learned some important information on how to portion out her food. She said, “I learned that the amount of meat that I eat should be the size of my hand.”
Peeples said that when she plays with her three-year-old nephew, she quickly becomes short of breath; this has inspired her to change her lifestyle and exercise, because she wants to be able to play for extended periods of time with her nephew. She has continued to act on some of the information she learned at the Wellness Camp, such as stretching and walking around the block. She lost four pounds during her four-day stay at the Wellness Camp.
SRPMIC President Diane Enos visited the Diabetes Day Camp and shared some inspirational words with the children and their parents. “The simplest thing we can do is stay away from white foods, especially sugar, white flour and salt. She said this advice has improved her health, and it’s one reason why, at age 60, she is capable of running around the Community.
For more information on the University of Arizona’s summer Wellness Camp for Children with Diabetes, go to http://nartc.fcm.arizona.edu/diabetes_camp.htm.