Whitney Peake, a UWG junior, is starting a new group on campus called L.S.D., an acronym for “Living Strong with Diabetes.” Peake knows firsthand about diabetes. She was diagnosed as a Type I diabetic fifteen years ago at the age of five. During that time in Peake’s life, she was too young and upset to truly grasp the larger picture and see the positive affect she might one day have on people.
“I was five years old in a hospital wondering why this happened to me and why was I having to go through something so traumatic,” said Peake.
As Peake got older, she began to realize how desperately she wanted to help other young people with diabetes and show them that they were not alone. She applied for an internship with the American Diabetes Association in Atlanta, and to her surprise was quickly offered a job as a “Walk Recruiter.” It is Peake’s job to help various groups in their efforts to raise money for the cause.
Peake is already planning on-campus events for L.S.D. One of her first projects is to hold a “no sugar added” health awareness program to teach people healthier ways to cook and show people things they can do to prevent diabetes.
Peake plans to get the word out about the new group by emails, flyers and posting events on UWG’s calendar on their website. The goal is to raise awareness to young people of the effects diabetes can have on a person’s life and that diabetes is not something that happens only to older people.
“We all grow up having this mentality that old people get diabetes and young people don’t have to worry about it, but that isn’t the case at all. It happens to kids and teenagers every day,” said Peake.
Another goal Peake has is to start an exercise group that meets a couple of days a week, in order for students to motivate one another and serve as a forum of encouragement for people living with diabetes or those who simply want to prevent the disease.
Not only has Peake dealt with living most of her life as a diabetic, but she has dealt with the effects it has had on her family.
“My grandparents were diabetic and my uncle had to have his leg amputated due to the disease,” said Peake. Two years ago, Peake’s nephew was diagnosed with the disease, making him the second diabetic grandchild in her family. This has given her more motivation and drive to help others and be an inspiration to her nephew in order to show him that he can lead a normal life as a diabetic.
Peake encourages people to be on the lookout for the L.S.D. events that are being planned for this semester. “Whether or not diabetes directly affects students there will be many opportunities to get involved with LSD,” said Peake.
Not only are there ways to become involved in the awareness of diabetes through L.S.D., but the American Diabetes Association also has various community outreach programs. Each year they have a walk in Atlanta. This year, the walk will be held on Sept. 29, in Grant Park.