A teenager who has helped give a voice to young people living with type 1 diabetes has won a volunteering award at our annual Inspire Awards.
Lavena McStocker, 14, from Moneyglass, won the Young People’s Outstanding Contribution accolade. The awards recognise dedicated volunteers and health professionals who campaign to improve the quality of care available to people with diabetes. They also fundraise for pioneering research and raise awareness of diabetes.
The teen joined our youth project ‘Our Lives, Our Voices’ last December. She's gone from being self-conscious about her diabetes to speaking confidently about her life with type 1 to various groups.
Lavena has shared personal traumatic experiences of managing her diabetes in a bid to raise awareness among the medical profession. This includes giving a talk to 200 student nurses. She also helped develop a wellbeing programme as well as inputting into focus groups.
The schoolgirl was among a total of 13 Inspire Award winners who were celebrated during an online winners' ceremony on 26 November 2020.
Lavena said: “To say that I was shocked after receiving an email about winning an award for volunteering at Diabetes UK NI would be the understatement of the year.
"I've always thought very negatively about my diabetes and tried not to make a fuss about it so when I had heard about ‘Our Lives, Our Voices’ I was very hesitant to sign up for it.
"Now I am so glad that I did because not only has it boosted my confidence when talking about diabetes, it’s also boosted my confidence with everything that I do in life.
“I’d like to thank the Carl, Hailey and the team who nominated me and I’d like to thank ‘Our Lives, Our Voices’ for giving me this amazing opportunity. I just hope that other people who are like me and scared to talk openly about their diabetes will read this story and feel a little more confident.”
Tina McCrossan, National Director of Diabetes UK NI, said: “Lavena has challenged herself to come out of her comfort zone time and time again which has been very encouraging to see. She is developing herself into becoming a young leader by learning new skills, taking on different volunteering roles and using her opinions to let us know what the project needs.
“It is a pleasure to have Lavena on the project and I am excited to see what she does next."
To find out more about becoming a volunteer for Diabetes UK NI, or to join a local support group, please email email@example.com or call 0746 9154 823.