A diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes can be life-changing, and a Maryland teenager is using his experience with the disease to help other students adjust more easily to their diagnosis.
Connor Pugh, 17, of Brookeville, has lived with diabetes for years. A rising senior at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring and a Life Scout with the Scouts of America, Pugh came up with the plan to create diabetes kits as part of his Eagle Service project.
The kits contain items ranging from insulin coolers to water bottles, ID bracelets and even sharps containers for needles.
“It’s very hard to deal with needles when you’re out and about,” Pugh said.
There are also calculators in each kit to help with insulin dosage calculations.
Diabetics have to monitor their food intake and take that into account for insulin dosages, so calculations are just a part of their daily routine, which Hugh said can get “very complicated with decimals and whatnot, so a calculator is probably a necessity unless you’re really good with math.”
And there are times in the classrooms when phones are not allowed, so calculators would come in handy.
Pugh said he came up with what should be included in each kit by looking at what he found useful in his diabetes care.
From the time Pugh conceived of creating the kits to the time they were ready to be distributed to other Montgomery County students, a total of 60 kits had been assembled.
Each kit costs an average of $50 to $60. The project was funded partially through a GoFundMe account and through donations from friends and family.
Pugh was honored at a ceremony at Sherwood High School on Tuesday morning.
His mother, Jeanne, said every aspect of her son’s life was affected when he was first diagnosed at age 14.
“There’s no picking up a bag of chips and just have a random snack like a typical teenager,” Jeanne said.
But it wasn’t in her son’s nature to become overwhelmed by the changes, and her son came up with the plan to offer the kits to any student who needs one.
“Obviously I’m very proud of him,” Pugh’s father, James, said, adding that he was happy to see his son recognized by school officials, including Sherwood Principal Timothy Britton and school nurse Irene Gumucio, who congratulated Connor for taking the knowledge from his own experience in managing diabetes and making it his “superpower.”
Montgomery County Public Schools Medical Officer Dr. Patricia Kapunan spoke during the ceremony, as well, and congratulated Pugh on his project.
Kapunan said what Pugh has done helps in “making teenagers feel supported so they can be teenagers.”
Each kit comes with resource information on diabetes management in English and Spanish.
Pugh’s father was asked if there are plans to expand the creation of the kits.
“If somebody wants take that up, if MCPS or the county wants to take it up, if that’s something that’s in their budget, something they want to do, we’re definitely in favor of it,” James said.
“We’re not trying to own this or trying to make money from it,” Pugh said. The idea is to help families who were in their situation after a diagnosis and wondering, “What do I do now?” Pugh said.
One thing the teenager wanted to stress to other kids like himself, who learn they’ve got a condition that requires habit changes and daily monitoring: “You can probably continue your normal life as long as you keep extra-aware of your diabetes.”