Breathing fresh air into diabetes education
Chloe (Steepe) Vance, Artsci/PHE’05, Ed’07, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 18 and moved to Kingston a year later. Here, she found the incentive to live well and to the fullest. Today, she is a world traveler and a trailblazer, as the founder of a specialized diabetes education organization.
During her first year at Queen’s, Chloe started using an insulin pump to assist her with managing the high and low blood sugars associated with diabetes. Using a pump instead of the traditional injection method provided her with a new sense of freedom. However, there was still something missing from her life: community. Where were all the other young, active people living with diabetes?
Chloe set out to use outdoor adventure to engage people with diabetes. She credits PHED 338, the popular Camp School course led by Bill Sparrow, Artsci/PHE’75, Ed’76, as the first of many catalysts at Queen’s that inspired her, in 2009, to form the organization Connected in Motion (CIM). CIM’s mission is to foster a community of people living with type 1 diabetes, so that they may inspire one another to live without limits. “The courses I took and the people I met during my five years at Queen’s instilled in me the importance of community and ignited my passion for healthy, active living, outdoor adventure, and experiential education,” says Chloe.
CIM adventurers have climbed, skied, snowshoed, volleyed, pedaled, and paddled together. A coast-to-coast expedition in 2010 included hiking the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in B.C., canoeing throughout Algonquin Park, and backpacking at Duncan’s Cove in Nova Scotia. Testing blood sugars in the rain and injecting insulin by campfire are regular occurrences when exploring with CIM. The hands-on, peer-based experiential education philosophy of CIM has attracted more than 1,000 national members and a loyal international online following. Both are anticipated to continue expanding as new networks flourish. CIM proves that barriers to leading a full and healthy life with type 1 diabetes can be reduced as much by social engagement as by medical advancements.
Chloe is shaping a concept of what it means to live well with diabetes. She is getting a hand from CIM’s volunteers, including Bill Sparrow, who sits on the Board of Directors, and supporters such as Ali Bagg, Artsci/PHE’09, Shannon Graup, Artsci’13, Annie MacAuley, Artsci/PHE’12, Lauren Moore, Artsci/PHE’04, and Kirsten Otis, Ed’13.