12-year-old entrepreneur uses fashion to raise awareness of the early signs of Type 1 Diabetes.
For a lot of young people, Grade 7 is a time that’s more about fitting in than blazing trails. Then there’s Kate Beaulieu. The 12-year-old Stittsville resident is an entrepreneur and a social activist who is reaching out and taking action to educate the public about the early signs of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
Along with spreading the word in print and on television, Kate has also launched her own clothing brand, Sugardrop Sweetwear Co. There’s a company website, sugardrop.ca, and a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.
By way her stylish hoodies, tees, tanks and accessories, this young CEO is sharing a critical message: Don’t ignore symptoms of T1D, and don’t hesitate to ask for a blood test to check for it.
She is also reaching a key audience: youth. Type 1 Diabetes is being diagnosed in increasing numbers of children and teens. “The prevalence of T1D among children up to age 19 increased 21 per cent between 2001 and 2009,” notes the JDRF website, www.jdrf.ca. And it continues to grow.
As the numbers climb, though, diagnosis often lags behind, taking too long. That’s scary, as well as dangerous. In Kate’s words, “Too many people are diagnosed late and are very sick by then and in DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), which can kill you.” She urges anyone with TID symptoms “to insist on having a finger prick test.”
Last winter, when Kate became unwell, nobody knew what was happening. “We thought it was the flu,” her mom Karan says. “We knew nothing about Type 1 Diabetes.”
So it was easy to miss the signs. Kate’s initial symptoms were flu-like, it was flu season, and a lot of kids were sick. She didn’t bounce back, though. The normally active, lively tween and competitive dancer had no energy. She was on the couch, missing school and her dance classes. There were trips to the doctor, but her symptoms were still assumed to be influenza.
Yes, she was thirsty. Yes, she had to go to the bathroom a lot. Yes, she was vomiting. But a gastro bug was also going around.
Meanwhile, “I was very sick,” Kate notes. Her parents were getting more and more worried. The fatigue was extreme and she began experiencing blurry vision. Finally, after weeks of illness, there was a blood test and an answer: Type 1 Diabetes. It was March 1, 2017.
While Karan says she was upset at the news, her daughter “just kind of took it on. She’s really awesome.”
“Type 1 doesn’t stop me from doing anything,” Kate explains. “I’m no different than I was before.”
Not only did the Sacred Heart student get right back to dance at Pointe of Grace Dance Company, three months after her diagnosis she founded Sugardrop Sweetwear Co.
Her brand name came about naturally. As Kate was getting the hang of monitoring her blood sugar levels, her mom would remind her to draw a drop of blood to do the test. The words she used were, “Kate, it’s time to Sugardrop.”
Now Sugardrop is a brand with a powerful message: “One Sugardrop could save a life. Your life.” The Sugardrop logo represents the single drop of blood needed for a T1D finger prick test. (That’s all it takes!) The small drops inside represent the drops of blood people with T1D have to take daily to test their blood.
As more and more kids wear the brand, with its distinctive logo, they’ll be spreading T1D awareness. And that, for Kate Beaulieu, will be sweet indeed.
Type 1 Diabetes signs include:
Lack of energy
Unexpected weight loss