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Sunday, December 4, 2022
Maya Webster, 9,continues fight for diabetes research

NOTL youngster joins Kids for a Cure as delegate and calls for more support


Nine-year-old Maya Webster says she will continue advocating for Type 1 diabetes research until a cure is discovered.

This week, the Niagara-on-the-Lake youngster is taking a virtual stand with more than 30 other delegates as part of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Kids for a Cure Lobby Day.

JDRF is a global charitable organization with the goal of ending Type 1 diabetes through research funding and advocacy.

Kids for a Cure, the week-long virtual event, connects youth delegates with Canada’s decision-making politicians to illustrate daily challenges people living with Type 1 diabetes face, and to ask for more direct support from the government.

This year, the foundation has three main asks: for the federal government to renew a partnership with JDRF and the Canadian Institute of Health and Research, to create a national diabetes strategy and for more people to be able to access the disability tax credit.

“What I'm doing this year, and what I did in 2018 with this, is trying to find the cure because as much as I have insulin it still isn't a cure,” Maya says.

Delegates created virtual slideshows to give a personal overview of what living with Type 1 diabetes means for them. Maya says she included images of herself when she was sick, pictures of herself happy and healthy, and information on what a day in the life of a Type 1 diabetic looks like.

Maya is no stranger to voicing concerns on a public stage. In July 2019, she went door-to-door to secure signatures for a petition asking for Assistive Devices Program (ADP) to cover the cost of glucose monitoring devices for people with Type 1 diabetes. Last November  she met with Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and took that petition to Queen’s Park.

She says she counts herself lucky to have her own Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring system covered by her mother Christi Webster’s workplace health insurance plan. Her devices, one which reads her blood sugar levels and one which administers insulin when needed, replace the five needles and 10 finger pokes she used to endure each day. She says she wants to see everyone who needs those devices to have access to them.

Even with her monitoring devices, Maya says being diagnosed at a young age, (she was two years old), she needed to grow up a little faster than most kids her age.

“I had to figure out how to be a bit more responsible with my blood sugars and to take care of myself better,” she says.

Christi says much of their fight includes breaking stereotypes about diabetics and educating people about the realities of the disease.

“Making people aware there was nothing she did to cause this, nothing I did when I was pregnant, nothing like that set it off. She just drew the unlucky card. She drew the short straw,” she says.

“I don't really care what people say when it comes to my diabetes. I'm not scared to show it and I'll let people see. And that's really what being a JDFR advocate means to me,” Maya says.

And though she says some kids at her school might think she’s lucky because they see her eating candy, “They can’t realize all of the fun activities that I do miss out on, like gym and a lot of my recess, because my blood sugar may be really low.” 

While she is taking the fight public through the JDRF, Maya says people can help support the cause by writing to federal Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland in support of the foundation's pre-budget recommendations and by joining the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus.


*An earlier version of this story read that Webster went door-to-door to secure signatures for a petition asking for OHIP to cover the cost of glucose monitoring devices for people with Type 1 diabetes – it has been corrected to read Assistive Devices Program (ADP) coverage. ADP helps residents of Ontario by paying for life sustaining therapy. Currently insulin pumps in Ontario are covered by ADP. There is no age limit or limiting of financial assistance by wage as coverage is a set amount.

*Also it was noted to contact Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Philips when it should have read Federal Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland.