Written by Warren Smith – George’s Dad
George was diagnosed with T1D three years ago at age four. After his diagnosis, our family was approached by JDRF to consider becoming advocates and we were happy to do so. George was slightly skeptical, but when we explained that he could use his experience to help other children living with T1D, he immediately agreed. Whilst living with an insulin pump and CGM has been beneficial, George wishes no-one had diabetes.
We decided to become advocates because we want to do something about T1D. We aren’t scientists, doctors or politicians, but at least we can support the wonderful organisation that supports us, and so many others. We also want to be good role models to George, to encourage him to be proactive and to fight back against a situation that he had no choice in – “Do something!”
In August 2018, George represented Tasmania as an advocate at Kids in the House. He had a full understanding of his role, his mission and the gravity of the trip to Canberra. He was very proud to speak to politicians about T1D but also a bit scared. George is not an extrovert and it took a lot of courage to talk to important people about a very personal subject. Ultimately, George was empowered by his experience.
Taking ownership of T1D has been a driver for George to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Under the tutelage of Adam Newton at Sorell Martial Arts Academy in southern Tasmania, George has earned his white belt and recently competed in a local competition, winning 2nd place in his division. He thinks more kids with T1D should learn BJJ, and not let T1D stop them from doing anything that’s fun (or healthy!). Between advocacy, martial arts and a supportive family, George has become better able to deal with the pressures of being a small boy living with disease. Many thanks to JDRF for the continuing support and Adam at Sorell Martial Arts Academy for the mentorship, fitness and good times.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling based martial art not dissimilar to wrestling. The objective is to take your opponent to the ground and control them. When kids are older, they will then include submissions, like chokes and armlocks. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be great for kids; they get all the well-known benefits of exercise as well as learning valuable skills that are applicable to self-defence situations. Adam Newton – George’s Jiu Jitsu Coach