I have been an advocate for diabetes pretty much since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just before my 11th birthday. I wasn't too sick at the time and didn't really know what diabetes would mean for my life. But I got worried when I realized it wasn't something they could just cure, that it would be with me forever.
I was an active kid -- I had been doing karate since I was four and had just started to race karts competitively. So first thing on my mind was if I would still be able to train and race. But I was determined that diabetes wasn't going to stop me. And I didn't think it should stop other kids either. So not long after my diagnosis, I decided to do something to help other kids with diabetes.
I created a workshop for diabetes education centers and summer camps, and talk to the kids and their families to tell them that diabetes won't stop them from achieving their dreams. I've been a JDRF Youth Ambassador for two years, and have spoken at four International Children with Diabetes conferences.
In 2011 I was awarded the Canadian Diabetes Association Inspiration Award. And this month, we are putting together our most ambitious fundraising event ever, in partnership with the Academy of Martial Arts: Karate Chops Diabetes. Karate Chops Diabetes will centre around a 12 hour, 15-ring Karate marathon, featuring two attempts to break world records: for most people performing the Kata at one time, and Ryan "6-Pack" Lapadat -- Canada's Real Life Super Hero and World Power Lifting Champion -- will lift a bleacher full of people. The Academy of Martial Arts has committed to raise $250,000 to help fund the Canadian Clinical Trial Network through JDRF through this event -- to help bring us one step closer to finding a cure.
Karate Chops Diabetes is about living well, being active, helping others and making a difference in the diabetes community. The event will be on November 24th, 2012 at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ontario. It will be a great opportunity for everyone to come out, have some fun and help us make a difference. You can learn more, help us reach our goal, and can watch live at KarateChopsDiabetes.com. You can even break through your own diabetes challenge with the cool Virtual Board Break App on the website.
Diabetes doesn't have to put the brakes on your life. These days, I'm ranked as one of the top kart racers in Canada, and in 2013 I'll be pushing even harder and moving out of karts to Formula 1600 open wheel cars. I just got my Black Belt in GoJu Karate.
I haven't let diabetes slow me down for one second or stand in the way of my dreams. It isn't always easy, but it has made me stronger. Karate has helped me a lot. Nothing comes easy when you train; it takes dedication to train so that you can react effectively when it really counts. Managing diabetes is like that.
You can live a healthy life doing anything you want if you are take care of your diabetes first. As for me, I will keep going and do what I can to make a difference until there is a cure.
Whether a child is punching a pad or breaking a board, he or she must have a tremendous amount of focus in karate class. When a child learns to focus energy on the task at hand in the dojo, this same focus can be applied to reading a book or completing a homework assignment.
Most karate organizations teach a series of forms called katas. These katas require students to remember specific techniques in a specific order. Many karate classes also require students to remember a series of self defense moves that they must perform. The memorization skills developed in martial arts can help children as they prepare for tests in school.
Karate classes tend to be very strict when it comes to behaviour. Most instructors will not tolerate excessive talking or goofing around in the dojo. Improved behaviour in karate class often translates into improved behaviour at school. Improved behaviour at school often translates into improved grades.
There are many opportunities for goal setting at karate class. Most martial arts systems have a belt ranking system with white belt being the lowest rank and black belt being the highest. This ranking system encourages students to strive to reach the next level. This teaches children to work toward the achievement of a goal. A habit of goal setting often develops in martial arts students and they work toward other goals such as getting a high school diploma or a college degree.
Karate dojos are a place where students are pushed to give 100 per cent on a consistent basis. Students are encouraged to kick a little higher or punch a little stronger at nearly every karate session. This encourages them to never accept less from themselves and it makes them realize their true potential. Karate teaches children that they can be far more than average and that they can achieve far better than average grades.
As karate students become stronger physically and they begin to realize they can handle themselves in dangerous situations, they become more confident individuals overall. A heightened sense of self confidence will likely benefit children throughout their lives.
One of the most important words in martial arts is respect. Students are taught to respect their instructors, each other, and themselves. Many karate instructors spend time in class discussing the importance of respecting school teachers and parents. Respect is often missing in many facets of today's society and when children are taught lessons about respect it can have a major impact on the future of our world.