Diabetes WA sponsor adventure of a lifetime

Three young people with insulin dependency joined Youth Explorer Voyage 1913 in October thanks to a collaborative effort between Leeuwin Ocean Adventure and Diabetes WA.

Elliot Crosby, Oliver Zammit and Morris Brookes, who all live with type 1 diabetes, enjoyed the seven-day experience sailing around Rottnest and the Fremantle coastline. They learnt new skills, climbed high masts and made a lot of new friends.

They may not be ready to sail the seven seas just yet, but they have gained the confidence to manage their diabetes independently.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. It cannot be prevented and there is no cure.

Children living with type 1 diabetes and their families face multiple challenges to ensure they live healthy lives.

“It is mentally, emotionally and physically very draining at times. The best way to describe it is that once there has been a diagnosis of a child with type 1 in your family it feels like it almost causes part of your brain to form that can never sleep or shut off, constantly in a state of worry trying to stay one step ahead of the disease” Says Elliot’s Mother, Melanie Crosby.

Being on the ship meant the young men were unreachable during the whole week, a first for all of them, and managed their diabetes themselves.  This promoted growth for themselves and their caregivers.

The sailing adventure also gave their parents, who often find it difficult to “let go”, the opportunity for respite and a mental break from managing and caring for a child with a chronic health condition.

“We think that this voyage could not have come at a better time for Elliot and us as his parents,” says Melanie, “We are at a point where after 10 years of continuous management of his type 1, we need to start to slowly letting go to allow him to live his own life, trusting that he now has the skills, knowledge, courage and determination so that he can conquer living with type 1 diabetes independently.”

For many years, Diabetes WA has partnered with Leeuwin Ocean Adventure to ensure young adults living with type 1 diabetes can experience the same exciting opportunities as their peers.

“This is an exciting collaboration between Diabetes WA and Leeuwin Ocean Adventure – to provide access for young people living with diabetes to engage in Western Australia’s most powerful youth development adventure” says Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Chief Executive Officer, Carol Shannon.

“At Leeuwin Ocean Adventure, we are advocates for inclusivity, ensuring equal opportunity for youth to join on a journey of personal discovery while developing confidence, courage and resilience for their lives ahead.”