Students’ Play Fights Diabetes in Children

Aug 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-1: Sovereignty in Indian Country
By Wendy Johnson

MAX AND DELILAH. Student actors portrayed the dangers of diabetes better than lectures to young students. Photo courtesy of The Pine Journal

Too often adults try to cram advice and information down the throats of young people – only to have them “zone out” critical knowledge that could perhaps one day save their lives.

Enter, stage right — the Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College beginning acting class. The 18 students presented an original play last spring to area middle and high school students that hit home in a surprisingly big way.

The three-act play, “A Day in the Lives of Max and Delilah,” is about type 2 diabetes, a disease that is striking young people and adults at an alarming rate. The play results, in part, from grant funding obtained through Peggy Hiestand, the college’s Woodlands Wisdom nutrition director. Hiestand guest lectured in instructor Scherrie Foster’s beginning acting class and served as a resource for students at the college in Cloquet, MN.

“Students collectively brainstormed ideas for the play, co-wrote, directed, blocked, choreographed, starred in it, and took care of all the props, sets, and lights,” Foster said. “It’s their baby, and I’m very proud of them.”

Through a series of brief vignettes, the play tells of a young girl, Delilah, who has diabetes and is ashamed to let her classmates know, and a young boy, Max, who is in denial about having diabetes – until he collapses in school from insulin shock.

The play portrays how the two characters deal with the fear, depression, and social stigma of feeling “different” at a stage of life where “fitting in” is all-important.

At the end, the cast appears on stage, still in character, to talk about the cold, hard facts about type 2 diabetes and how it can be prevented while still in one’s teens.

“It’s your life and your body,” the cast told the students. “Take care to honor it. Treat it well. Give it nourishment. Help break the trend of Type 2 diabetes in children. Please don’t be the first generation of children to not live longer than your parents.”

(Reprinted with permission from The Pine Journal.)

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