Aiea Youth Raises Awareness About Diabetes On National Stage
Aiea resident Taylor Kim was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“We struggle every day. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and be like, it’s great – it’s not,” said her mother, Chandra. “It’s a hard disease to live with because we guess the whole time.”
That, however, hasn’t slowed Kim down.
This week Kim, now 12, is representing Hawaii at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 2013 Children’s Congress, which is held every other year. She joins 150 other children ages 4-17 from all 50 states and D.C., plus the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, United Kingdom, Israel and Canada. The children will educate members of Congress on type 1 diabetes and encourage them to support research.
Kim was picked from a pool of 1,500 applicants.
“Taylor was selected for her active participation with the Hawaii chapter of JDRF … as well as her balance of academic and community achievements,” said Hawaii chapter executive director Gail Chew.
The JDRF Children’s Congress first met in 1999 with the intention to provide firsthand knowledge of the disease so Congress members could to better understand it and why research is crucial.
“(It) gives our young people an opportunity to ‘put a face’ to type 1 diabetes with members of Congress and to connect these faces and their stories when they are debating and voting on appropriations for the Special Diabetes Program and related research programs,” said Chew.
According to JDRF’s website, the lifelong disease occurs when a person’s pancreas produces little or no insulin, requiring the affected person to inject it several times daily.
Kim’s family has been involved in JDRF since she was diagnosed in September 2008.
“Their mission is to find a cure,” said Chandra. “And as a mom, when she was diagnosed, you know, your whole world turns upside down, you don’t know what’s happening. I didn’t even know what type 1 was, and so it was just a way to find people who were dealing with it as well.”
Since then, the Aiea Intermediate eighth-grader-to-be has spent her time educating others and sharing about what life is like with type 1 diabetes.
“I’m thankful for JDRF because they’ve done so much to find a cure,” said Kim, who is looking forward to “meeting different people that have struggles with the disease.”
As a testament to her ability to persevere, Kim also competed in the national taekwondo championships a week before heading off to Congress.
Having a second black belt, she has been practicing the sport since she was 5. “(I like) just being with my friends and getting to travel and compete with them,” she said.
For parents and families going through the experience, Chandra recommends sharing with other people.
“Talking to people – it’s such a huge thing, it helps me a lot,” she said.
The main focus, however, is living a normal life. “(There are) hard days. But she has to live, and she has to live a normal life just like anyone else. We just have this one problem that we deal with … and she does it very well.”
To learn more about JDRF Hawaii and its volunteer needs, call 988-1000 or email development coordinator Audrey Alvarez at email@example.com.