Cambridge girl writes book to help sister, raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes

A Cambridge girl is standing up for her little sister and raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes.

Mrs. Compton’s kindergarten class at Cambridge Primary School got a treat when a real author visited their classroom to read her book about an elephant named Emily. Sixth-grader Jenna Anderson’s little sister Leah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in March.

The book is titled “Just How I Am, A story to learn about Type 1 diabetes.” Jenna wrote and illustrated the book to help other kids understand Leah is just like them, except for the insulin pump and glucose monitor she wears on her arms.

“Because I’m sure they’re curious about why all of this is happening; why she has to go to the nurse,” Jenna said. “It’s just how she is. She’s not different. She shouldn’t be treated any different than other kids should.”

In the book, Emily the elephant experiences everything kids with Type 1 diabetes do, like insulin shots, doctor visits and monitoring what she eats.

The book reviews are great. Jenna won a Grand Champion ribbon at the Isanti County Fair and a 4-H Award of Excellence at the Minnesota State Fair. The state fair judge even wrote, “It may even be a good idea to bring this into pediatric hospitals so that kids newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes can learn more about the diagnosis in a way they can understand.”

Jenna’s book hasn’t been published, but Cambridge Primary School Principal Rhonda Malecha thinks more children should read it.

“I think the book is amazing. The awareness to kids is extremely important,” Malecha said. “All kids deal with different things and kids need to understand that even though you might have a pump you still need to be a kid and be part of the classroom.”

Jenna’s mom, Julie, said Jenna has also been invited to read her book to all the kindergarten classes at Isanti Primary School.

In Minnesota, 466,000 people suffer from diabetes, and many others may have diabetes and may not know it. The American Diabetes Association’s Minneapolis-Saint Paul office educates the public about how to stop diabetes and supports those living with the disease.