By Phil Denne, St. Anastasia School parent
Spearheaded by five current students with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and their families, St. Anastasia School of Newtown Square hosted a Diabetes Awareness Week and Walk in October as part of a JDRF Your Way campaign, leading into the Philadelphia One Walk and National Diabetes Awareness Month.
St. Annie’s history with JDRF dates back to 2010, when the Joslin family helped to launch the school’s first walk in honor of their son Brian who was among four T1D students in the school at the time. This year, there are five T1D students, including three graduating eighth graders.
As in previous years, the Diabetes Awareness Week festivities and fundraising campaign launched with a pair of school assemblies: one for second through fifth grade and another for sixth through eighth grade. The program included introductions of the T1D students, age-appropriate YouTube videos on T1D, and a Q&A session with the students and their parents. In addition, Pre-K through first grade students read books to their class explaining T1D and introducing them to Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes®.
“It’s a community effort that’s well worth the time,” remarked Palma Joslin, Brian’s mother. Brian’s younger sister Clare also has T1D. “All of the T1D families played a role in helping to make the day come together. The school administration—including the principal Mrs. Doyle and the vice-principal Mrs. Brown—have been very supportive of the T1D students and the challenges they face each day. They were happy to support the event and generous in offering prizes, including a Dress-down Day and gym passes for reaching fundraising goals.
Finally, the JDRF Eastern PA Chapter was also a great resource, providing insight on appropriate videos and resources, helping to create the fundraising webpage, providing free t-shirts for top fundraisers, and helping to account for and distribute funds.”
The school embraced the week with each homeroom creating posters and hanging paper JDRF sneakers throughout the hallways of the school. The fundraising period ended after one week with a walk around the neighborhood of the school. The walk concluded in the school parking lot with a DJ, as well as donated waters and pretzels for the kids. This year’s walk raised nearly $9,000 to support JDRF, while previous walks raised in excess of $13,000.
“Type 1 diabetes has had a significant impact on a number of our students at St. Anastasia,” remarked Principal Doyle. “We are a supportive community, and hosting the Diabetes Awareness Week and Walk provided a great opportunity to come together as a school to help our fellow students.”
“As the parent of a child with T1D, it can be extremely challenging,” added St. Annie parent Jennifer Denne. Jennifer’s daughter Hayley was diagnosed with T1D at age 10. “Having a school community like St. Annie’s that really cares for and supports its students—particularly those with diabetes—is amazing. I was truly moved seeing all the kids come together to walk and raise awareness for T1D.”
Creating a JDRF Your Way fundraiser is completely free. You have access to fundraising tools like a custom fundraising page, a private dashboard to monitor your progress, sample messages to ask for support, and other downloadable resources. How you choose to fundraise is really entirely up to you!
We invite you to visit the JDRF Your Way website to find out more about starting your own fundraising campaign, or contact 610-664-9255 to speak with an expert at the JDRF Eastern PA Chapter. Visit jdrf.org/p/kids-fundraising for more ways to get your child’s school involved with JDRF.