Meet Heather Berg, 2013 National Youth Advocate
|Heather Berg was the second child in her family to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.|
Heather Berg didn't show symptoms when she was diagnosed with diabetes eight years ago. Heather and her family were at a big-box store, checking out a demonstration of blood glucose meters. Heather's little brother, Aiden, had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14 months old, so the family was familiar with testing. Heather wanted to try the meter, too—and it showed that her blood glucose level was more than 220 mg/dl.
"My mom and I didn't want to believe [the reading]," recalls Heather, now 18 and a high school senior in Kent, Wash. "There weren't any symptoms, but afterwards, looking at pictures, I was looking kind of sickly." Already familiar with diabetes, Heather took over the management of her type 1 right away. It has helped, she says, that the nurses in her parochial schools have been supportive. "Especially in grade school, our school nurse was really awesome with going to classes to teach about diabetes, so I was really blessed," she says.
Heather hopes to bring that type of support to other children with diabetes. As the 2013 American Diabetes Association National Youth Advocate, she'll work to promote the ADA's Safe at School® campaign. To learn more about Heather, visit diabetes.org/nya. For more information about Safe at School, go to diabetes.org/safeatschool.
Diagnosis: Type 1 diabetes, at age 10
Diabetes Management: Insulin pump, frequent blood glucose testing, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying active through cheerleading. "Having just the recommended diet isn't enough," she says. "Physical activity makes it a lot easier to maintain my diabetes."
Extracurricular Activities: Cheerleading, Spanish Honor Society
Volunteer Work: ADA teen leadership retreat and advocacy program, Diabetes Day at the Washington State Capitol, American Diabetes Association EXPO® youth zone supervisor, peer mentor at Family Link retreats
Goal as National Youth Advocate: To promote the ADA's Safe at School campaign. "That's focusing on making sure that all kids have the care they need to learn and be healthy at school," she says.