A 12-year-old girl from Oldham is helping to raise awareness around the challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes, by taking part in the ‘Blue Balloon Challenge’.
Hollie Henderson, 12, is one of many living with the condition taking part.
Kicking off last month, the challenge will continue to run up until World Diabetes Day on November 14.
Organised by healthcare company Medtronic, it invites members of the public to step into the shoes of those who live with diabetes by posting a photo or film of themselves as they try to keep a balloon in the air, a metaphor for the constant balancing act required to manage diabetes.
For every post Medtronic will donate €5 to Life for a Child, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing life-saving insulin and basic medical devices to children with diabetes in developing countries.
Almost half a million people across the UK and Ireland live with Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic condition that occurs when the body does not produce insulin or produces insufficient insulin, resulting in excess glucose in the blood.
Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, it cannot be prevented and does not develop because of a particular lifestyle.
Currently, Type 1 Diabetes has no known cause and no known cure, but tight management of it markedly improves lives.
Hollie, who was diagnosed only last year, knows all too well the challenges of living with diabetes – from the dangers of suffering hypos (low blood glucose) to stress-inducing daily injections.
Since being diagnosed, she has built up a following and community on Instagram, where she connects with other young people living with diabetes from around the world. 
Hollie said: “Living with Type 1 Diabetes is a constant balancing act.
“It’s like doing everything in your daily life while keeping a balloon in the air. 
“The #BlueBalloonChallenge allows other people to experience my everyday and better understand Type 1 Diabetes, while also helping raise funds for children who don’t have access to the care – and insulin – that I do.”
Hollie’s mum Sarah said: “It was a big shock to the system when Hollie was diagnosed last year, but we are so grateful to the NHS and to the incredible technology that has helped her navigate her diabetes.
“Her diagnosis completely changed everything. She went from a happy, carefree child – and then to someone with the responsibility of being completely “on” all the time, monitoring her insulin to self-administered injections.
“Luckily now she’s on a pump so that has stopped (the injections), which is amazing, but it still requires constant management.”
She added: “People aren’t always kind to her at school – as they don’t really understand Diabetes, which is why Hollie is so keen to raise awareness and educate people.
“I would like to encourage everyone to get involved with the #BlueBalloonChallenge – it’s so simple but has the potential to positively impact children around the world.
“Children who don’t have the care or access to insulin like Hollie, which is all thanks to the NHS and incredible organisations like Medtronic.”
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