Nov. 10, 2023

Nursing student uses her own experience to advocate for diabetes awareness

Brooklyn Rhead shares more about her journey with Type 1 Diabetes
Digital Artwork by Brooklyn Rhead

“Embracing to Empower" digital artwork by Brooklyn Rhead

Brooklyn Rhead is a Term 5 nursing student at the University of Calgary. Shortly before the COVID pandemic hit, when she was in high school, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She’s been a passionate advocate for diabetes awareness ever since.

In 2021, she was featured on CTV’s Inspired Albertan and the following year, she was the headline speaker at the 2022 Walk to Cure Diabetes. When the provincial government announced proposed changes to Alberta’s insulin pump benefits program, Rhead spoke out against it among many other Albertans. Read this story in CBC about the controversy. Due to the intense public pushback, the government changed course and opted to continue the program.

Currently, Rhead is also a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) ambassador and has raised more than $6,000 towards a cure for Type 1 diabetes. She was even mentioned in the House of Commons for Bill C-237, the national framework for diabetes.  

Last year, Rhead donated a piece of her own art, titled “Embracing to Empower,” to the Faculty of Nursing where it’s now hanging in the Professional Faculties Building.

This digital painting depicts myself, a UCalgary Nursing Student, surrounded by numerous supplies used to manage Type 1 diabetes. It demonstrates that there are more to individuals beneath the surface than what meets the eye.

“Although demanding and challenging, my Type 1 diabetes is accompanied by many rewards, including a community of support, increased advocacy, and a voice for change. This demonstrates how nurses can use personal perspectives and experiences to empower themselves while also serving as a reminder to provide person-centered care.”

On Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, Rhead is taking over UCalgary Nursing’s Instagram Stories to share insights as a nursing student with Type 1 diabetes: how she handles daily management of it, her clinical experiences and more. Tune into @ucalgarynursing at 12 p.m.