Westbury Middle School hosted its 1st Annual Diabetes Walk on Wednesday, Nov. 6, and Thursday, Nov. 7. Students were joined by staff and parents, as they raised funds and awareness for the American Diabetes Association during their regularly scheduled gym classes. By Wednesday morning, students had already brought in $1,500 in sponsorships from their friends, family members and neighbors. The school's two-day fund-raising goal was $2,000.
According to school nurse Robbin Brenker, one in 600 children are diagnosed with diabetes, but four out of 850 students enrolled at Westbury Middle School have diabetes.
This event is the first in a series of wellness programs planned by the school's newly formed Comprehensive Health Council. "The concept is that if kids are healthy, they learn better," said Robbin Brenker.
As part of the diabetes event, the school nurse also distributed informational packets to all students in the school explaining the disease and prevention measures, such as proper diet and exercise. "Just about every student said they knew a friend or family member with diabetes," noted Brenker.
Raymond Williams, physical education and health teacher at Westbury Middle School, noted that this event is especially important to the school's diverse student population considering the high incidence of diabetes among the African-American and Hispanic communities. "Through this event, the students are learning to become a part of their community," he said. "They have had very positive attitudes about it. Many of the students have already raised a lot of money, and brought their envelopes into the school nurse. They've really done a great job."
Seventh grade student Ada Perla, 12, who is diabetic, helped organize the walk. Asked how she feels about hosting the walk in her school, she said, "I feel happy, because now everybody knows what being diabetic is."
Many other students participating in the walk also commented about the importance of this event.
"I think it's important, because we have to tell people with diabetes that we have respect for them, and we have to raise money for them. I have a girl in my class who has diabetes, so I feel good about doing it," said seventh grader Priscilla Jackson, 13.
I think it's important, because my grandmother died of diabetes, and I'm walking for her," said seventh grader Tony Sims, 12. "And my uncle's got it. It runs in my family. I'm walking to raise funds for it, so that they can find a cure."
"Some people with diabetes can't walk like regular people. So we should walk for them," said seventh grader Caliym Sarden, 12. "I think it will lead to more people caring."