Student organization aims to educate community about diabetes

Rachel Huck

Being a new student at college is a daunting task by itself. For the 7,700 college students with Type 1 diabetes, adjusting to college can be overwhelming.

This is why the founding members of Grand Valley State University’s Students with Diabetes chapter are proud to find a home on GVSU’s campus.

“Having a support system in place can be a vital component to a student’s success,” said Alisha Davis, adviser for the organization.

The national SWD organization began in 2010 as a way to provide support to college-aged individuals who were living with diabetes.

“My younger sister is a fellow Laker who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2007,” said Lindsay Bogi, founding member of GVSU’s chapter. “When I became aware of Students with Diabetes, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have a chapter at GVSU and create a support system for my sister and other students working through the same types of experiences.”

It is free to be a part of the GVSU chapter of SWD. The organization aims for its members to gain support from and give support to their peers.

“The mission of this organization on the national level is to empower young adults touched by diabetes to live optimistically,” Bogi said. “We are looking to create a support system of peers to support our T1D Lakers. As members of the GVSU chapter, we will focus on education, friendship, support, encouragement and involvement in the community.”

SWD aims to provide connections, resources and education to those living with diabetes.

“I hope that the students involved in our chapter take away a sense of community, new friendships and the knowledge of where to find resources to help them manage their diabetes in the best way they possibly can,” Bogi said.

The organization seeks to provide support through fun activities and events, while also creating a personal and professional network for students.

“Students should consider becoming a part of this organization because for those who have Type 1 diabetes, it is a great way to connect with other T1D students on the GVSU campus,” Bogi said. “Diabetes is not an easy disease to manage, but having the support of other students facing the same challenges can help to ease the burden.”

If going to college was not enough, students living with diabetes have the added stress of dealing with medicine and health insurance costs, as well as trying to find a new doctor or maintaining care through their previous doctor.

“This is also a great organization to be a part of for young adults who have family members or friends living with Type 1 diabetes,” Bogi said. “Connecting with this community can help them to become better educated about the disease and how to best support their loved one.”

The reason SWD targets students between the ages of 17 and 25 is because exposure to new and different lifestyles during these years causes stress. When combined with the hormonal influences of transitioning into adulthood, students of this age need all the support they can get.

“It is so important for students with diabetes to support each other, because diabetes is a disease that requires constant care. At times, that can be all consuming and very overwhelming,” said Cameron Costa, president of GVSU’s Students with Diabetes. “Having a network of friends to relate to and rely on for help and encouragement when needed, especially when living away from home, can help young adults to meet the challenge successfully and optimistically.”

Forming friendships is valued in the organization. The goal is for students to feel connected to others with diabetes.

“Diabetes is at epidemic numbers across the nation,” Davis said. “Why not be a part of a bigger movement to support and educate individuals about diabetes?”

The GVSU chapter of SWD meets every Tuesday on the Allendale Campus at 8 p.m. For more information, visit the organization’s OrgSync page.