Australian kid takes on American congress

Ready to fly: Will Cullen has been the local face of youth diabetes for years. Thanks to his adviocacy work the government recently announced funding for glucose monitoring devices. He will visit America to continue huis work in June. Picture: Simon Bennett
Ready to fly: Will Cullen has been the local face of youth diabetes for years. Thanks to his adviocacy work the government recently announced funding for glucose monitoring devices. He will visit America to continue huis work in June. Picture: Simon Bennett

When Will Cullen started campaigning for type 1 diabetes awareness he never imagined he would be making his way to Washington DC to speak with some of the most powerful people in the world.

The 12-year-old from Harrington Park will visit America at the end of June to speak with members of the United States Congress about the importance of diabetes research.

His mother Melanie said Will will join 100 other children from seven countries to advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“We will meet with the Australian ambassador, Joe Hockey and members of congress to talk about funding and research,” she said.

“It’s about giving the kids a voice.

“As my son says to me, ‘adults are more likely to listen to kids about this than other adults’.”

Mrs Cullen said Will might even have the chance to meet US President Donald Trump.

She said Will was excited about the trip and was looking forward to meeting like-minded children.

“I think he’s pretty excited to see how they do things differently over there,” she said.

“We met with a JDRF advocate from St Louis, America over Christmas and she talked about the different way they measure their sugar and Will was really interested.”

Will was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at two years of age. 

He relies on a continuous glucose monitoring device to avoid fatal or long-term health consequences.

The device monitor sounds an alarm or sends a text message if his levels are too high or too low.

These life-saving machines can set families back $4000.

Ms Cullen said Will had long been advocating for the government to fund the cost of these machines for families.

“The funding has all come through now, so that is great news for local families,” she said.

“It’s amazing because people can now access this new technology.”

Ms Cullen said Will’s advocacy work had helped him to remain positive about his condition.

“You have no control over diabetes,” she said.

“You feel helpless because you can’t fix it, so I think being involved with advocacy has helped Will to tell his story.”