Diabetes is a very common disease among children in Canada. Several studies have shown that genetic factor and inactive lifestyle plays an important role in the prevalence of the disease among Canadian children. Several programs have been initiated at the community level that has proved successful in preventing the spread of the disease. However, thorough research indicates that without the collaboration of the community as a whole it is really difficult to control the disease. The Canadian Pediatric Association has laid down several recommendations such as adopting traditional lifestyle and food, breastfeeding, population screening, encouraging physical activities, and a healthy diet. As an Early Childhood Educator, it is important to keep in mind the physical, social, psychological, and intellectual well-being of the children. Only through proper understanding of the child’s requirements can an ideal curriculum be set up for the healthy growth of the children.
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The basic aim of the early childhood educator is to help the child improve his social, physical, psychological, behavioral, emotional, intellectual, and educational well-being. They are trained not only to improve the development of children in all aspects mentioned above but at the same time are required to prepare a curriculum to support their objectives. Their services can vary from a single home environment to the whole community. For that matter, the role of an early childhood educator must never be ignored since they play an important role in the healthy growth of a community (Direnfeld, n.d.).
To understand the prevalence and prevention of diabetes I have studied several scholarly articles related to the topic and the following observations have been made.
For an early childhood educator of Canadian children with Diabetes, it is important to understand the prevalence of diabetes among Canadian children and the communities that are at greater risk.
- Approximately two-thirds of the Canadian children lead an inactive life. Gender plays an important role in determining the level, intensity, and participation in physical activity. The higher rate of physical inactivity in a calorie-rich environment leads to obesity and type II diabetes mellitus (Katzmarzyk et al., 2004).
- Type II diabetes mellitus is found to be quite prevalent among Canadian children as well as adults. It has been studied that aboriginal children are more exposed to this disease. Canadian researchers have observed that genes play an important role in the prevalence of diabetes among the aborigines. Gestational diabetes is studied to be a risk factor for children to develop type II diabetes in later life. Obese family history and inactivity are also considered to be two more sources of type II diabetes among Canadians in later life. Some other symptoms that are indirectly linked with the cause include insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome which includes acanthosis nigricans, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dyslipidemia, and steatohepatitis (Pediatric Child Health, 2005).
- In Canada, several early childhood education programs have played an important role in bringing awareness among children and parents in dealing with diabetes. For example, the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Programs has been made successful due to the joint efforts of the community and the researchers. The program has raised awareness among people related to diabetes, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle. The project includes serving healthy food at schools, lectures related to diabetes prevention at different grades level, and involvement of children in daily physical activities.
Another program called Sandy Lake First Nation School Diabetes Prevention Program has been in action since 1998. This program involves the efforts of grade 3 and 4 students, their families, school administration, changes in the curriculum, school, and store environment. Children were given healthy breakfast and snacks at school. They were made aware of the importance of a healthy diet and active life. Health promotion literature was circulated in local stores and at homes. Several other programs include preparation of the special manual for the teacher and provision of videos, games, cookbooks, and other materials that could help children in understanding the disease (Pediatric Child Health, 2005).
It has been observed that children prefer to have sweet and sugary food over healthy food. The presence of vending machines at school has played a negative role by introducing unhealthy diet habits among children. Even in those schools where vending machines are not available children prefer sugary diets and many bring sugary lunches from homes (Bonanza, 2009).
Going through the above observations I believe that childhood is a period that plays an important role in the healthy growth of a child. For that matter, any successful diabetic prevention program has to be done in collaboration with the school, parents, and the community. The success of the above-mentioned diabetes prevention programs is due to the community effort. The job of an early childhood educator becomes much easy in that manner. The problems of young kids are different in different stages. It becomes the duty of the parents, teachers, and friends not to make life difficult for diabetic children and help them to accept life as it is. Any kind of restrictions upon children that are beneficial for their health must be shared with the children. At the same time, the feeling of being singled out among diabetic children must be dealt with amicably. The issues of glucose monitoring, injecting insulin, and food limitations must be shared with them.
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As an Early Childhood Educator, I believe an ideal strategy would be to put children into two categories which will include children less than 8 years and young adolescents since the problems of adolescents are entirely different than the young kids. It would then be easy to focus on the physical, social, psychological aspects of children (JDRF, 2009).
As an Early Childhood Educator, I would recommend the strategies that have been approved by the Canadian Pediatric Society. At the same time, it would be important to ensure the participation of the parents, teachers, and friends at the community level. Helping the child lead a normal and shameless life would be a big achievement. The introduction of a healthy diet in schools is very important for the prevention of diabetes. At the same time, physical activities for boys and girls must be made mandatory at all levels according to their physical strength. Sedentary is considered to be one of the root causes of diabetes.
Several recommendations have been given by the Canadian Pediatric Society that is mentioned below (Pediatric Child Health, 2005):
- Increased diabetes prevention programs at the community level.
- Adopting traditional foods and lifestyles.
- Breastfeeding is an ideal way to promote healthy children with lesser chances of obesity.
- Daily physical activities for about one to one and a half-hour. This should be strictly implemented in schools, daycares, and other health promotion programs.
- Encouraging healthy diet in schools, homes, and at local stores.
- Discouraging passive activities such as watching TV and bringing it down to a minimum of one and half hours maximum daily.
- Screening the at-risk population (Sellers et al. 2005).
To conclude it is important for the Early Childhood Educator to chalk out a curriculum that will be helpful for all the kids at all levels. Healthy habits for all will not let diabetic children feel different. At the same time, mandatory physical education and health screening must also be made a part of the curriculum. Lastly without the involvement of the parents, it would be difficult to implement the intervention strategies.
- Bonanza, N. (2009). “School Role in Early Childhood Health,” Foundations and Current Issues of Early Childhood Education. Web.
- Direnfeld. G. (n.d.). “Children and Divorce: The Role of the Early Childhood Educators”, Interaction Consultants, Web.
- “Helping Your Child or Teen Live With Type 1 Diabetes” (2009). Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
- Katzmarzyk, P.T, Chris, I.A. (2004). “Physical Activity Levels of Canadian Children and Youth: Current Issues and Recommendations”, Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 28, (1). Pg. 67-78.
- “Risk reduction for type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal children in Canada,” (2005). Pediatric Child Health, 10 (1). Pg. 49-52.
- Sellers, E.A.C., Heather, J.D. (2005). “Screening for Type 2 Diabetes in a High Risk Pediatric Population: Capillary vs Venous Fasting Plasma Glucose, Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 29, (4). Pg. 393-6.