From camper to leader

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In April this year, when Andrew Good received an ASB Good as Gold Award for his work with Diabetes Youth, he was surprised and overwhelmed. For him, volunteering has always been about giving back to a community that he says gave him so much as he was growing up.

Andrew Good, Chair of Diabetes Youth Auckland, was diagnosed with type 1 when he was five. He says, “a natural choice soon became apparent. Either be defeated by diabetes, allow it to control my life, and forever see it as an obstacle to success, or take control; learn to recreate the boundaries of what a lot of people consider a defining or restricting condition.

“My parents played a huge part in developing the mindset I live with today. After struggling for months, holding me down to do my injections, they helped me build my own confidence and independence to self-manage. They encouraged me to try things and push the perceived limits.”

Andrew was a regular at Diabetes Youth camps as a child. “I was always excited to attend, albeit homesick, and I have fond memories of the activities and learning.” It was thanks to camp that he discovered how much he enjoyed rock climbing, which is still a huge part of his life today. “It led me to climb socially throughout my teens and adult life – around New Zealand, Australia and the USA.”

There have been difficult times too: “Diabetes burnout is always there, even today. And especially through my teenage years, I had a horrific HbA1c. There were too many other things to focus on. But keeping active in sports and outdoor adventure kept things in perspective for me.”

THE DECISION TO GIVE BACK

In 2012, Andrew decided to volunteer at the annual children's diabetes summer camp. “Initially, I returned simply to be a helping hand, but I quickly realised there was something much bigger happening. It needed passionate people to build confidence and independence, and to inspire youth and their families. As a community, we all know how difficult type 1 diabetes can be to manage, so I wanted to help others see around what could be considered as a barrier to achievement.”

Before long, he’d joined both the Auckland and national Diabetes Youth committees. He wanted “to bring in a youth voice and speak for those who relied on the services we provide the most. Youth are the future of our organisation so to support them makes absolute sense to me.”

Most of all, he loves seeing “those moments where children realise they are no different from anyone else – when they achieve things both in diabetes and in the activities that have pushed them outside of their comfort zones. And then when someone asks how they can get involved to make a difference, just like I have, this gives meaning to everything we do.”

And what about the people supporting the supporter? “My wife Hayley; past and current endocrinologists Cheri Hotu and Steven Miller; and Carla Canty – friend & fellow DYA volunteer/committee member – have all supported, encouraged, guided and motivated me to take on new challenges, and to lead and inspire others living with type 1.”

Andrew shared his story in the Winter 2019 issue of Diabetes magazine.

Linked to ‘Andrew’s Artificial Pancreas’ and ‘Nightscout New Zealand’ Blogs

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Inspired by this story and have one of your own to share - read more here.

Jo Chapman