, Gloucester, MA

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April 26, 2013

A shot of support

Diabetes group helps students at Gloucester High School

Anyone with a teenager in his or her life can vouch for the difficulty of gathering a group of teens to stay after school for an educational program, especially when the teens could venture off with friends, head home for some T.V. time or play a ball game.

But a group of students sat around a table in Gloucester High School’s guidance office Thursday after the last school bell rang, defying those odds for a chance to discuss the auto immune disorder that shapes the lives of eight students at the school: Type 1 diabetes.

Bethany Haselgard, who not only attends the weekly group sessions but also attends a camp for kids with diabetes each summer, said the group has created another way to help her stay involved and healthy, too.

”I find when you get more involved with the diabetes community, you take better care of yourself,” Haselgard, a sophomore, said. “We all saw each other in passing in the nurses’ office, but the group has really brought us together.”

Haselgard’s mom, Julie Mackey, said she is relieved that the school’s nurses have helped Haselgard in school, and she is thankful for the after-school program that school nurse and nurse leader for the district Cindy Juncker sparked up this year — a program that, it turns out, is pretty unique.

”You either have something for little, little kids or for the elderly, but you don’t have anything for this period, the most awkward time of your life,” Mackey said.

Studies have proven that children at the high school age require more help and encouragement to be attentive about taking care of themselves, than even younger kids, Juncker pointed out.

Juncker has hosted speakers for many of the after school meetings, some who discussed nutrition and planning with the teens, one who showed them safe exercising techniques, and others who taught mechanisms for coping with the stress that can accompany the responsibilities of their chronic disease.

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