The Disability Resource Center, The Wellness Center, and three students are looking to find a new way to provide for students with diabetes, by bringing the College Diabetes Network to Rowan.
The College Diabetes Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that focuses on the needs of students with diabetes and incorporates a social environment for its members. It currently has about 100 chapters across the country, including The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University New Brunswick, according to the club president Abigail Gill.
A rise in students diagnosed with diabetes prompted John Woodruff of the Academic Success Center to find a way to help. After reading an email about the College Diabetes Network, Woodruff worked with Scott Woodside, director of student health services at Winans Hall, to bring the organization to Rowan’s campus.
“We both knew there was this College Diabetes Network,” Woodruff said. “So as the number of students registered with diabetes with our office grew, we had a meeting last spring [to start the group].”
The Wellness Center does provide treatment for students with the illness by offering nutritionists, blood-sugar testing, and hemoglobin A1c tests which are often required by endocrinologists. The center also works with students who are diagnosed with multiple illnesses alongside diabetes.
“We’ve had students who have come in with different comorbidities meaning that they have multiple occurring chronic conditions,” Woodside said. “Some students are on the spectrum with diabetes, so we’ve seen an issue and we’ve tried to do programming in the past to has been pushed to the students.”
Last semester, Woodside teamed with Woodruff to provide workshops with nutritionists and diabetic experts to diabetic students registered with both offices. It was an early attempt to offer programming for students with diabetes.
“You don’t have to come to the club or physically be there, but in the case of an emergency, and you’re far away from home…I would totally accept anyone who would want to be there.” – abigail gill
After poor attendance for these workshops, the two men decided to try another way to engage students with diabetes: by holding interest meetings for the College Diabetes Network this semester.
A recent meeting for interested members spawned just two students, including freshman communication studies major Gill. Though the attendance at the meeting was poor, Gill embraced establishing the club for students on campus with illness.
“I’m very outward about my diabetes, and not everyone is,” Gill said. “You don’t have to come to the club or physically be there, but in the case of an emergency, and you’re far away from home, and you feel like you need somewhere to go, I would totally accept anyone who would want to be there.”
Gill said that SGA requires a club to have five to six members to be eligible for a petition hearing. After the petition hearing passes, the club can have a charter hearing to become funded through SGA. The Network currently has three members.
Woodruff has been helping Gill grow the club. He says being a part of Rowan’s Health Exposition and student orientations could help the group gain notoriety.
The club is being pushed as a network of students who may not realize that they have peers at Rowan who are diagnosed with the same illness.
“If students meet other students going through the same things, then that can go a long way,” Woodruff said. “There’s a lot students on campus with hidden disabilities. It’s not like someone in a wheelchair notices another student in a wheelchair. It’s more so that students know they’re not alone.”
As the fall semester closes, Gill says the group plans to meet again early next semester to focus on their club’s future. Check out their ProfLink for more info.
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