Steven Ellertson will join a select group of people this week at a national conference on diabetes.
The 23-year-old Brocket resident is one of just 20 young people from across Canada chosen to attend the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association’s Youth Summit at Niagara Falls, Ont.
A member of the Piikani Nation, Ellertson has seen first-hand the effect diabetes has had on family and friends.
“It’s really affected my family a lot,” said Ellertson, whose grandmother died from complications from diabetes.
The conference also fits in with Ellertson’s future plans as he prepares to earn a Bachelor of Science degree with an eye to a career in medicine.
“I want to get some more knowledge out of it,” Ellertson said of the conference, which runs from Oct. 10-12.
Ellertson was working as an assistant at the health centre at Brocket last summer when the nurses there encouraged him to apply to be a delegate at the conference.
He was intrigued with the idea of attending a national conference, networking with other young people and gaining some information about healthy lifestyles and diet that he could share with family and friends.
Ellertson was required as part of his application to write an essay about his work in the community.
Most recently Ellertson was involved with a young chef’s course, a bike rodeo and a babysitting course offered at Brocket. He was also involved in organizing a community clean-up.
“It was great,” Ellertson said of working with young people on the Piikani Nation. “I loved it.”
Ellertson sent in his application and essay, and then got the news that he was one of just 20 people chosen from among 120 applicants.
“I was jumping around when I first got the e-mail,” Ellertson said with a laugh.
The National Aboriginal Diabetes Association is charged with working with aboriginal communities to promote healthy lifestyles and create awareness of diabetes.
The non-profit association was established in 1995 in response to the rising incidence of diabetes among aboriginal people.
The association promotes awareness of the disease, advocates for programs and services for aboriginal people affected by diabetes and promotes healthy lifestyle to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
The Youth Summit provides First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth aged 18 to 24 years the chance to discuss topics such as childhood obesity, physical activity and nutrition.
“After the event they said there will be plenty of time to go sight-seeing,” Ellertson said with a smile.
Ellertson is hopeful the knowledge he gains at the conference will be helpful in his life and that the contacts he makes will benefit his career.
Ellertson plans to enroll at the University of Lethbridge next fall to begin working on a Bachelor of Science degree. He is considering a career as a medical researcher.
At present Ellertson is attending the Lethbridge College campus in Fort Macleod to upgrade high school courses, including biology and chemistry. He is pleased to be able to do the required upgrading so close to home.
“The teachers are great,” Ellertson said of the Lethbridge College campus. “The staff will help you as much as possible.”