Why a Surprise Volunteer Opportunity Blew My Mind

One of the goals I set for myself this year was to do volunteer work.  As the end of the year approaches, I reflect on the positively amazing things that have unraveled in my life.  I attended amazing personal growth events, surrounded myself by life changing people who are changing the world.  And then I became one of them.  I realized my responsibility to give back.  To help people by sharing, teaching, coaching, expressing passion in the most impactful way.


Little did I know how uplifting one volunteer experience would be.
I recently reached out to the American Diabetes Association to inquire about volunteer opportunities.  As it turned out, the timing was rather good in that they are beginning a new program in 2017 for Diabetes Education in the workplace, schools, and other venues.  My contact expressed a rather quickly approaching need for a presentation to be done at a school nearby.  I was excited to jump right in so I agreed.


Until I saw the proposed presentation material.


My course of studies, experience, research, and education has led me to the most recent findings in health & wellness.  The more recent research often conflicts with historical government data.  It’s like reading an old textbook.  A specific example would be around the new American Dietary Guidelines when they announced “cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern”.  This is a wonderful example of how the government often lags behind when it comes to changing information publicly.


I could not stand in my truth and present this material.  I expressed my concerns and the contact at the ADA was actually supportive of my material & because it’s a new program, they are still developing the information.


It turns out my first assignment was for kids from kindergarten through 8th grade, broken in three groups.


Anyone who knows me, knows I do not have the best way with words for children.  I work primarily one on one with adults.  So I knew this was going to be an exceptional challenge for me, but like most things I have been doing this year, I ran towards the fear.


During the presentation, which was filled with colorful cartoons, fruit and vegetable props, and sugar filled soda & juice visual aids, I was fascinated by the kids interest, enthusiasm, and amazing questions.  Their innocent passion and genuine interest in diabetes, food choices, and acceptable options made the process so interactive and fun.


It was so fulfilling to see their faces and to know that they are the future.  These kids are the ones who will be feeling the effects of disease much earlier in their lives if they continue to live on the standard American diet (SAD).  The earlier the awareness, the better the potential outcomes. After all, according to the CDC, of the children born after the year 2000,  35% will become diabetic in their lifetime.


At the end of the presentations, the first graders gathered for private questions around their classmate’s type 1 diabetes.  Why does she have to get a blood test before lunch?  How do you get diabetes?


This process had me thinking so much about how important it is to begin teaching the kids young.  Of course, it takes the parents and adults being educated and setting a good example of health and living well.  But, if even one of those kids went home and asked for more vegetables or a coconut water instead of a soda, I believe the presentation was successful!


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