Gold Award Girl Scout: Kayla Fairweather, Parker, “E.N.D. T1D – Educating Non-Diabetics About Type 1 Diabetes”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I created a video curriculum on Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) to supplement the T1D training that teachers currently receive. The video featured the perspectives of diabetic students, their parents, a professional athlete with T1D, an endocrinologist, and a diabetes resource nurse. Together, these perspectives offered a more personal view of the challenges faced by diabetic students and insights on the emotional burden of managing this condition in the school environment. I also made a video specifically for diabetic students and their parents to show them that they’re not alone with their condition, and many of the feelings they experience are completely normal and shared by others. I presented my video at two sessions during Type One Nation, a T1D educational event, and at a statewide diabetes resource nurse meeting.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

When presenting my video, I provided before and after surveys to every attendee. I received great feedback from parents of diabetic children, many stating that they related to the video’s message. Comments were left including a new understanding that, “everyone associated with diabetes have the same thoughts/concerns” and “T1D does not prevent one from doing anything.” Every diabetic teen who viewed the video responded that they believe teachers and other students need to learn more about T1D, especially how to relate to diabetic students and to not joke about it or confuse it with Type 2 Diabetes. Most responded that they felt more comfortable talking with their teachers about T1D after watching the video and had takeaways such as “you are not alone” and you “have many peers supporting you.”

The impact of my video was especially profound on the diabetes resource nurses. Before watching the video, about 67% responded that the emotional challenge of living with T1D was only a small or medium part of their current curriculum. After watching the video, about 90% responded that the emotional challenge should be a large part of the curriculum. I received comments such as “very well put together video and very helpful having the perspective of the patient/student,” “the importance of including the student perspective,” “how important it is to share with staff the challenges that kids with T1D face and what their thoughts are about needing help in the classroom,” and “I appreciated the statement that every student with diabetes is different.” Diabetes Nurse Educators from both JeffCo Public Schools and Pueblo County District 70 commented that they would love to share the video within their school districts.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

My project advisor, Kelly Driver, is including my video in the Type 1 Diabetes curriculum for the Douglas County School District. All new teachers and nurse assistants in Douglas County will watch the video along with the standard T1D curriculum they already receive. The video will additionally be shown by nurses in middle school health classes in Douglas County schools. My video is also being shared with diabetes resource nurses from school districts across the state. I have had several of these resource nurses express an interest in continuing to share my video with the nurses, teachers, and coaches within their school districts.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

Diabetic students across the world are met with a lack of education about Type 1 Diabetes within the school setting. I reached out to several global and national organizations that work to share resources with all diabetics facing these common issues. I have spoken with a media coordinator from Beyond Type 1, an online diabetes education, advocacy, and support organization that works with T1D on a global level. I shared my video with her, and she is trying to have it featured on the Beyond Type 1 website. I also shared my video with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and they featured it on their Rocky Mountain Chapter Facebook page. This social media account has 2,747 followers.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned a great deal about how I work with others and tackle challenges. First, I learned that although I am typically more shy, I felt comfortable talking with my team members and other large groups over the course of my project. Since my project was something I felt passionate about, I wasn’t extremely nervous to share it with others. I also learned that the goals I set in my head are sometimes a little overly ambitious. With my Gold Award, I realized quickly after starting that my project plan was too complex for the time frame I had to work with. Fortunately, I was able to work with my project advisor and Gold Award mentor to revise my plan. Additionally, I learned that I am fairly good at balancing various tasks, whether that was different parts within my project or other school and extracurricular commitments during the course of my Gold Award. Finally, I learned that I am usually open to new perspectives and was able to be flexible with sudden changes and obstacles during my project, especially the shift to virtual presentations with the start of the COVID pandemic.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

Earning my Gold Award helped me realize that I have the capability and support from others to change my community for the better. My Gold Award experience was the first time that I really set out to address a large issue of personal importance to me. During my upcoming years in college and my future career, I have more confidence to tackle challenges and seek help from others who share in a desire to make a change. I am also much more aware of the extensive planning that goes into large-scale projects. With this, I think I will be better prepared to manage my time and put forth the effort needed to prepare for and complete the task at hand. I have also grown tremendously in my communication skills which will help me in any career.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

Most of my Girl Scout experience was centered around learning to be a leader in my community. The Gold Award was the culminating experience that allowed me to apply that learning and actually make an impact that was especially meaningful to me. My Gold Award helped me realize how many skills I had acquired over my years as a Girl Scout. It really put into perspective how valuable this whole journey has been in shaping the person I am today.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Earning my Gold Award helped me grow as a risk-taker. Before this project, I had very little experience with conducting formal interviews and creating a final video product. My Gold Award really took me out of my comfort zone while learning these new skills. I also took risks in contacting new people over the course of my project and taking the initiative to try to form connections that would last beyond the project itself. I faced numerous obstacles over the course of my project with things not going as planned. From having to rethink my main project focus to rescheduling presentations and sharing my project through virtual platforms, I learned to be flexible and creative with finding solutions to a wide range of problems.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org.