Fredericksburg area elementary schools will participate in a pilot program that will provide training to school nurses and staff who care for students with diabetes. 

The professional education program—called Lions Empowering and Aiding Regional Nurses in Schools, or LEARNS—is funded by an $18,000 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation and the local Lions Clubs District 24-L.

"We are very excited about this program and the ability of groups to partner to improve the lives of children living with diabetes," said Kathy Gold, a registered nurse and diabetes educator working with the Lions and the Virginia Diabetes Council. 

Participating schools will receive a license to access a six-hour training course that school nurses can take at any time, Gold said. 

It will include a training program for other school staff that may interact with diabetic students, such as bus drivers and P.E. teachers. 

The courses will provide curriculum on healthy lifestyle recommendations, glucose meters, carbohydrate counting, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, medications, emergency situations and preventing complications.

"Technology has become very sophisticated in the treatment of diabetes and it has been difficult to keep school nurses and staff current," Gold said. "This program meets the needs, is affordable, will be updated as needed and relieves the burden from school districts and diabetes educators of trying to keep the education current."

The cost of a year-long license is $33, Gold said. Licenses will be awarded beginning July 1. 

Gold said Stafford County Public Schools purchased the program last year and has signed on for this year. 

She said Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County and King George County have also verbally committed to participating. 

Caroline County is not in the Northern Virginia area covered by Lions Clubs District 24-L, but Gold said plans are to extend the program to the entire state over a four-year period. 

"Resources for diabetes education vary across the state, and we were seeing disparities depending on access to a certified diabetes educator and the amount of funds each school district has to provide education," Gold said. "This grant will provide the needed education for all school districts and ensure the children receive the care they need."

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Adele Uphaus-Conner: 540/735-1973


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