Jessica Schmidt, 13, is a teenager living with type 1 diabetes in Victoria. As a Canadian Diabetes Association volunteer advocate, she has shared her story with Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

Jenny, David, Martin and Jessica Schmidt

What the Diabetes Charter for Canada means to me

I want everyone to see diabetes through my eyes and know that it isn’t something to be afraid or ashamed of. With the Diabetes Charter for Canada in place, perhaps more effort will be made within the education system to teach others about diabetes.

My diabetes story

When I was first diagnosed, my family had to adjust to my need for more routine, strict meal and dietary plans, and more, and they still have to on a day-to-day basis. When I was first diagnosed, a health nurse came to my school and spoke to the class about what diabetes was and how I would need to give myself injections throughout the day, poking my finger, sitting out for a few minutes during PE [physical education], and more. When my classmates knew, there was no guessing about, “What are you doing? Why do you get to sit out?” They all knew the answers. That one class was my easiest year in school diabetes-wise because the kids all knew. Now, after a few class and school changes over the years, no one really knows anymore,

I need to keep a close eye on my blood glucose (sugar) daily, whether I’m at school, at home, at a restaurant, or on a plane. I also need to be on the ball with my insulin delivery everywhere I go. Sometimes at school I will have people gathered around me watching me poke my finger, or at the store I sometimes get curious looks from young children when I pull out my insulin pump. When my class gets a new substitute teacher, he or she sometimes thinks that my pump is a cell phone. When I say that it is an insulin pump, sometimes I’ll get asked, “What is that?” and I will willingly tell them. But inside my head I am thinking, ‘Why would a teacher not know about something like this?’ Just recently, my grade eight teacher said that he thought type 1 diabetes was caused by consuming too much sugar. This lack of understanding really caught me off guard, and is what leads to judgment and uneducated advice from others. I have also had a classmate ask me if they could ‘catch’ diabetes by having me sneeze on them….Really?!

Being confident, I am happy to explain to my classmates about my diabetes and am appreciative that they ask questions instead of making assumptions, but some other students with diabetes might not be because of their lack of confidence about their diabetes.

I am super thankful for such a supportive family (my mom, dad, and my brother, Martin) and group of friends when it comes to facing daily challenges, as they make living with diabetes not so hard, and make me feel like my diabetes can’t slow me down.

Join Jessica and say YES to a Diabetes Charter for Canada today.