Living with diabetes

Brooke McGowan and Caroline Smith, behind, with the happy campers, from left, Emalie, Kaylee, Georgia, Rayna and Mitchell. 125823_01 Picture: ROB CAREWBrooke McGowan and Caroline Smith, behind, with the happy campers, from left, Emalie, Kaylee, Georgia, Rayna and Mitchell. 125823_01 Picture: ROB CAREW

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By LACHLAN MOORHEAD

BROOKE McGowan knows what it’s like to live with type one diabetes.
Diagnosed with the illness when she was six, the now 22-year-old, from Narre Warren North, knows what it’s like to grow up with type one but not know quite how to adjust to it.
As a result it was probably only a matter of time before the determined Brooke started up her own camp for children, aged between three and 12, who suffer from type one.
Brooke’s calling it her ‘Diabetes camp for kids’, and the first one is already planned for Mount Eliza in October.
“It’s been a lot of work, I’m the sole person organising it and I don’t have any backers or sponsors,” Brooke said.
“I’m a part of quite a few support groups on Facebook, and I was able to get families on board through word of mouth.
“When I was younger I didn’t really have a type one role model to look up to and I wanted to fill that void for some kids, I wanted them to know they’re not alone.”
Brooke’s three-day camps will cater for up to 16 children, each accompanied by a parent for the whole duration.
While there are several camps for children with type one that already exist in Victoria, Brooke said there was a need for a different type of camp that allowed parents to accompany their children beyond the age of seven.
“I think there are a lot of kids who don’t know any other diabetics their age, and they might live in a remote area, and once they’re seven their parents can’t accompany them,” she said.
“This gives them a chance to get together.”
The Diabetes camp will incorporate a range of activities for the children – including scavenger hunts, trivia, and outdoor activities – but Brooke said she wanted type one to be a backdrop, rather than the sole focus of the weekend away.
“I just want to show these kids that they can have fun,” she said.
“I want type one to be a bit of an undertone to the camp, but I more just want the kids to get a lot out of it.
“They’ll talk about it on their own; their day to day lives are diabetes. For the camp I want them to have fun and be together.”

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