PEI

Closure of diabetes camp 'devastating' for P.E.I. family

One Island family is expressing disappointment that a P.E.I. summer camp for children with Type 1 diabetes won't reopen this summer.

'Only a Type 1 kid knows a Type 1 kid and what they go through'

The closure of Camp Red Fox is 'heartbreaking news,' says Ashlen Smith, whose daughter Kyrah, right, attended the camp the last four years. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

One Island family is expressing disappointment that a P.E.I. summer camp for children with Type 1 diabetes won't reopen this summer.

Diabetes Canada announced last week it will not run Camp Red Fox in P.E.I. or Camp Dia-Best in New Brunswick. The region's only camps will now be held in neighbouring Nova Scotia. 

"It was devastating," said Ashlen Smith of South Rustico, P.E.I., whose daughter Kyrah has attended Camp Red Fox for the last four years. "It's heartbreaking news." 

The Smiths had been waiting for an email from Diabetes Canada to register Kyrah for camp when instead they received news of the closure, Smith told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.

Kyrah was "pretty upset," Smith said.

'They need those connections'

Kyrah was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 10 and has attended Camp Red Rox every summer since. She is currently the only child at her school who has Type 1 diabetes, to Smith's knowledge, which can be isolating.

Campers learned tips and tricks from one another for dealing with their Type 1 diabetes, Smith says. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Only a Type 1 kid knows a Type 1 kid and what they go through on a daily basis," Smith said. "They need those connections.

"They'll be playing games and they'll have to sit out because they have a low [blood sugar] and that's OK because there's 10 other kids sitting out with them — that doesn't happen [elsewhere]." 

Kyrah would return from camp happy and relaxed, Smith said. Kyrah also learned new tips and foods from fellow campers to better manage her disease. 

Nova Scotia is too far away to send a young child with Type 1 diabetes, parent Ashlen Smith told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. (CBC)

Diabetes Canada has offered free transportation for children from P.E.I. and New Brunswick to the camps in Nova Scotia, but Smith is not excited about that option. Being a four- or five hour-drive drive away would be too stressful for both parents and children, she believes.

"The kids are terrified going to camp," she said, and knowing family is not far away puts kids at ease. 

Smith and others have begun an online petition in hopes of keeping the camp open. 

With files from Louise Martin

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