Replacing scariness with facts

Dash VanderJagt, left, and Emily Hanner look up how many carbohydrates are in an apple
Dash VanderJagt’s T-shirt displays the humor, and the truth, of diabetes

Max Conner recently shared what he knows about diabetes: “You can get it anytime in your life,” said the Cherry Creek Elementary second grader. “And that scares me.”

Replacing the scariness with facts was one reason Max and others in Whitney Hoard’s class marked World Diabetes Day by learning about the disease.

The bigger reason, however, was their teachers: classmates Dash VanderJagt and Emily Hanner, who have firsthand knowledge of Type 1 diabetes.

Myles Stawasz tries to come up with a balanced, low-carb meal

The pair introduced information about the pancreas and its role — “ours don’t work, so we need to get insulin somewhere else,” Dash said. 

They also explained what it’s like to poke their fingers throughout the day to test blood sugar levels, why they sometimes get extra snacks and restroom breaks, and symptoms other students can look out for, including lethargy, thirst, shakiness and confusion.

They also worked in groups to create menus for a balanced, low-carb meal, just like Dash and Emily.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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