Meet The Association's Advanced School Advocates
"I love giving parents light bulb moments."
Kathy Risk-Sego, a music teacher from Madison, Indiana, was angry.
It had been recommended that her 8-year-old son, Hunter, be moved from his school because he had Type 1 diabetes.
After several, but ultimately failed, attempts to convince administrators they could work out simple accommodations, Kathy contacted the American Diabetes Association, learned that other Indiana families were dealing with similar issues and immersed herself in researching solutions to this problem. Kathy became involved as an Association volunteer advocate and her persistence paid off when, in 2007, the state of Indiana passed Safe at School legislation.
After that, Safe at School became Kathy's passion and mission. She attended the Association’s first Advanced School Advocate training session and was then able to help other parents fight for their children’s rights. In fact, Kathy has held over 15 parent Safe at School workshops and helped over 50 families improve the quality of daily school life for their children with diabetes.
Kathy believes that "parents need to be empowered." Her experience as a teacher made her a natural for this advocacy role and, among other factors, Kathy credits support from the Association’s national and local offices for keeping her motivated to continue as an Advanced School Advocate.
"I want to do whatever I can to help carry out the the Association’s mission. This is my way of paying back."
Katherine (Kitty) Koffer
"It's Empowering to Help Parents Advocate for Themselves."
Katherine (Kitty) Koffer, PharmD, CDE had been providing diabetes education for many years as part of her practice as a pharmacist, as well as a faculty member at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.
Working with the families of children with diabetes, she often heard about challenges in schools that affected the ability to control children's diabetes and their level of participation in activities.
In the spring of 2011, Kitty was invited by her local Association office to attend the Advanced School Advocate Training in Chicago. She happily attended and, what a difference it has made!
The most valuable part of training was learning new perspectives–especially from the school nurse, legal and legislative sides. Kitty realized that understanding the full spectrum of diabetes care is critical and it has made her a better practitioner."The training was wonderful! I didn't realize what an impact I could have on the legal protection of the child and, very importantly, successful resolution to problems."
One example is a parent who attended one of Kitty's parent workshops. Initially, the parent was very frustrated with the way diabetes was addressed at the school. After the workshop, with Kitty's help, this parent gained confidence about her child's legal rights, became an effective negotiator and worked with the school to create a win-win outcome–without the need for litigation!