Diabetes help bears journey once more


The story was published on May 11, 2021

A TRAVELING Teddy Bear Scheme Support for children with type 1 diabetes, started by a Westbury-born mother and her two daughters, has resumed after being grounded due to the Covid pandemic.

The Donkin family – Donna and their daughters Cerys and Alena (picture) – co-founded the initiative The Insulin Gang Support Group has also written and illustrated a book to educate children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1). Her work began after Cerys was diagnosed in January 2011 at the age of nine.

Now the Insulin Gang bear group has 2,300 members and there are 65 bears traveling around the world. Donna told White Horse News, “The bears have had a short break due to covid and hygiene, but they are just beginning their journey back. We have a bear that stays in an Indian hospital but the rest of them travel. We even now have a bear for the siblings of people with T1 diabetes as some felt left out. “

Donna started broadcasting Bears for children with T1 on loan for a month, with a diary in which they could write or draw about your adventures with your bear. The idea is for the children to read each other’s journal entries and realize that they are not alone. The family updates the Facebook page and families actively follow the bears.

Bears are common all over the world, including the UK, America, Australia, Portugal, and Africa. You’ve met celebrities like Nick Jonas and Robert Downey Jr. and visited Parliament.

In a recent Facebook post, Donna said, “Is your child a teddy bear lover? Do you have T1 diabetes? Would you like to participate in my Traveling Bears Scheme?

“It is free for a teddy bear to visit your child for a month. The teddy bear comes with an accompanying diary that your child can write or draw in to share adventures, big or small, and then pass it on to another child with T1 diabetes.

“I have 65 bears that travel around the world. Bears were grounded last year mainly due to Covid but are now starting to travel again. If you would like to learn more, please drop me a message. I will reply as soon as possible. There is a Facebook page that families join so they can upload their bear adventures, and kids love to see who the bear visits next @ The Adventures of the Insulin Gang Traveler Bears. “

Donna’s newest bear Anne (pictured) was sent in memory of her friend who unfortunately lost her life to Covid. Donna said, “Your daughter is T1 diabetic and it would bring us closer together. She loved the traveling bears, so it felt right to have one in her memory. “

Donna who is alive now in Trowbridge, Cerys said before she was diagnosed she had never heard of kids with T1, so she had to quickly come to terms with their new way of life and help her daughter adjust. After following the advice of Diabetes UK and connecting with other people with T1, the family set up a support group to provide connections for Cerys and a place to chat. This is where ‘The Insulin Gang’ began.

Donna said, “I saw a massive increase in membership with over a thousand new members during the pandemic, which means I now reach 8,800 people with diabetes. This is mostly true for people associated with T1 diabetes, but we welcome everyone with all types of diabetes. It’s a great platform for advice, sharing the latest medical research news, friendship, and a sense of community. “

Cerys struggled to come to terms with her diagnosis, so Donna decided to throw a donation tea party to focus on inviting friends. That started a list of over £ 10,000 fundraising campaigns raised by the family for Diabetes UK and other charities. Cerys is now studying animal management and Alena, who has ME, is studying art. Both girls are on the Equality and Diversity team at Wiltshire College to make positive change and educate them about issues that still persist with disability discrimination.

Donna said, “Both girls have different chronic diseases and this has affected different aspects of life. Even so, they both achieve amazing things, they are talented, ambitious and exceptionally kind and in my opinion will have a tremendous positive impact on the world around them because they know the struggles many people face in order to feel heard for To feel included, to get involved in accessible education and to face health problems.

“Our support groups and our books are an extension of the desire to reach out to others and develop a sense of community.”

Donna is working on her second book, Sugar Bear Goes on Holiday. She said, “My first book had some nice feedback. I know it was recorded in several schools and hospitals and made a difference for many children with T1, but also for the gentle upbringing of children with parents with T1.

“I’m almost done writing book number two, Sugar Bear Goes on Holiday. I just have to add a few more illustrations and it’s good to go and will be available on Amazon. I turned to slightly older children. “

For more information on joining The Insulin Gang or the Traveling Bears group, email Donna at donnamichellehall@hotmail.com