An Ardsley teen is working to make life with type 1 diabetes easier on local kids. Alexandra Malkin, a rising senior at Ardsley High School, started T1D Kits for Kids to provide free essential health supplies (along with a few small treats) to elementary-aged children. And people are taking notice — she was recently named “Hero of the Day” by Good Day New York for her work.
Malkin saw firsthand what kind of hardships kids face with juvenile diabetes after her childhood friend was diagnosed with the condition at age 9. “As I watched her life change extremely quickly, I began to understand the true impact that diabetes can have on someone’s life — especially at a very young age,” she told River Journal.
The experience stayed with her. Malkin decided to focus on diabetes once she was accepted into her school’s science research program, a 3-year elective that allows students to dive into specific research areas. “After reading various articles on past diabetic studies during the year, I was sure I wanted it to be what I would study for the remainder of my time in the program — influencing the two summer research projects I have been a part of involving diabetes.”
While immersing herself in the science, Malkin also discovered that the high costs associated with type 1 diabetes can be especially detrimental to children. “More recently, I found out from a friend that their cousin — who works at an elementary school in Michigan — has seen a lot of diabetic students who aren’t able to afford the basic diabetic technology,” she said. “As I looked into this issue more, I noticed extremely high prices of diabetic kits sold by large diabetes companies — more than any underprivileged family could afford.”
This sparked the idea to provide children with the devices and medical supplies needed for free. Her kits include glucose monitors, lancets, Band-Aids, batteries, and glucose tabs, “basic and necessary tools to stay healthy throughout the day.” While those items will make many parents happy, Malkin doesn’t forget her main focus: kids with juvenile diabetes. She tucks a few treats inside each basket to make them smile. “I also wanted to address the desire for comfort from young type-1 diabetics by including teddy bears, sugar-free candy, and bracelets, pins, that help them embrace their T1D identity.”
Since kicking off in January, Malkin has donated batches of kits to three different elementary schools, where she works with nurses to identify those who would benefit from them most. “The greatest amount of newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetics usually are found within that age group (kindergarten – 4th grade),” she noted. “The kits have been specialized to appeal to this
age group as well.” She’s working to keep relationships with the schools, and has been sent photos of the recipients “holding the kits and smiling ear-to-ear.”
Malkin hopes to expand the program outside Westchester in the future and has applied for grants to continue funding and upgrading her kits. And she wants to help connect children with juvenile diabetes through their stories. “I also have an idea to create a diabetes advice book that would include advice from experienced type 1 diabetics to help the younger diabetics make a smoother transition and feel like they aren’t alone.”
To help keep the program going, Malkin said sharing her work with others and making a donation would go a long way. “The only way to truly make my organization grow is to promote necessary funding and recognition for the work of T1D Kits for Kids and the concept behind it,” she said. “With these contributions, I can achieve the goals I have for the non-profit and expand my impact to the larger diabetic community.”
Visit t1dkitsforkids.org to learn more or to make a donation.