Home » Wellness » Children's Health » JDRF Offers Families Navigating Life with Type 1 Diabetes Resources and Support
Children's Health & Wellness

JDRF Offers Families Navigating Life with Type 1 Diabetes Resources and Support

Learning your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be overwhelming. It may feel scary and lonely at times, but there are resources available to guide and provide families with support to help them move forward with confidence and begin their new journey living with T1D with hope.

What is T1D?

T1D is a chronic autoimmune condition in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. The autoimmune response that harms beta cells usually starts months or even years before a clinical diagnosis, but without causing any major symptoms.


Insulin is a critical hormone made by the pancreas that allows the body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in food consumed for energy. Diagnosis of T1D occurs at the time that the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin for the body’s needs, causing blood glucose to rise. People with T1D monitor their blood glucose throughout the day and take insulin via multiple daily injections (MDI) or continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII), known more commonly as an insulin pump.

T1D can occur in people of any age, and its causes are not fully known. Genetics plays a role, as the condition tends to run in families, but 85-90% of people who are diagnosed have no family history. What we do know is that diet or lifestyle don’t cause T1D, it isn’t contagious or something you can outgrow, and it’s not currently preventable or curable.

Signs of T1D

  • Extreme Thirst
  • Increased Appetite
  • Drowsiness or Lethargy
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Dry Mouth
  • Frequent Urination
  • Fruity Odor on the Breath
  • Heavy or Labored Breathing
  • Sudden Vision Changes

Day-to-day with T1D

Learning how to manage T1D means balancing insulin, food, exercise and stress to keep blood glucose

levels in a target range (as determined by your healthcare professional) as much as possible. Living with T1D isn’t convenient, but thanks to advances in research and technology, it can be managed more easily than before.

Living with T1D means that each day may be different and requires careful planning and adjustments to keep your child’s routine on track. Daily management of T1D involves checking blood glucose and insulin levels regularly throughout the day to avoid severe high or low levels and their related complications. Learning to recognize the signs will help you to know what action to take and when.

JDRF is Here to Help

JDRF’s commitment is to provide compassionate community and valuable resources to families and caregivers as they navigate the challenges that life with T1D presents. Their Begin with Hope guide, offered to newly diagnosed families, was created with care by people living with T1D, their families, and medical experts.

The JDRF Bag of Hope is filled with useful resources for children and teens who have been diagnosed with T1D and their caregivers. Along with educational materials, we’ve included a special friend for children — Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes® — to show your child that they are not alone while learning to take insulin injections and test blood glucose levels.

My son Thomas was diagnosed a month before his 13th birthday. We were given a lot of information and a Bag of Hope. He beamed when he got it. Thomas wore his backpack everywhere. When asked where he got his backpack, he’d proudly say it was part of his diabetes package and ‘you can get one too if you get diabetes’.

I just wanted to reach out to JDRF and the Bag of Hope program and let you know that your support makes such a difference on so many levels. We appreciate you so very much.

Sincerely, Leslie Frye

Be Who You Want to Be

T1D is often described as a “hidden disease.” Your next-door neighbour, teacher, colleague — anyone can have T1D, and you may not know it. Some people with T1D are musicians, athletes, or politicians. T1D does not have to stop anyone from achieving their dreams. Type 1 diabetes does not define you.

Learn more about JDRF Canada’s mission and initiatives at jdrf.ca

Next article