In this episode, Josh Ochs sat down with a high school student named Carson Magee who raises awareness for students with Type 1 diabetes. Learn how Carson uses social media and positive online content to raise awareness for his cause.
Listen to this episode on our podcast:
- Post content online that can help others
- There’s a few advantages of being a kid but having an adult (or someone that can guide you through that process) really helps when building a positive online presence
How did you discover your condition?
When I was 7 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At first we didn’t know what was going on. I was drinking a lot of water. I felt tired all the time until my mom had to go away on a trip. She checked me into the doctor, saw the results, and said that I had type 1 diabetes. The doctor is a good friend of ours; he came back with tears in his eyes and said, “pack your bags and go to the hospital.” My diagnosis was a life changing moment. I didn’t know what was going on but I realized that I had an autoimmune disease and that I had to get finger pokes and shots every day for the rest of my life until there was a cure. Those first few weeks in the hospital, I felt alone. I soon found out that there were other kids like me that had type 1 diabetes. I felt there was a need to advocate for type 1 diabetes because it is a horrible disease. I wanted to help out. Not only me but the friends that I had met that have type 1 diabetes as well. I started out with coming up with small ideas that could help me out with type 1 diabetes. I entered an invention contest called Invent Idaho and I ended up getting best of show the first year, for a diabetic invention of mine called the “Swipe and Wipe”.
What did you do to raise awareness about Type 1 Diabetes?
At first I didn’t reach many people. A few months later I was featured on a Nickelodeon show and when it aired the entire community held a showing of the game show. That boosted my name and got the community involved. It helped raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes. From there it empowered me to go on to do more things. I got excited and felt that burn to go out and do whatever I could to raise money to one day get rid of T1D.
How did you come to speak on Capitol Hill?
I entered a contest called Children’s Congress in 2013. There were 150 kids that got chosen to speak at Capitol Hill and talk about raising awareness for type 1 diabetes. There is a bill that we were advocating to be passed which was called the SDP bill and it raised $150 million a year towards juvenile diabetes research. That’s a big part of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. I got chosen for that contest.
How did Carson build and grow his online presence?
Carson has a lot of ideas, he always come up with ways to advocate for what he believes in. After the contest, a lot of TV stations and radio shows wanted to interview him. I started looking and there was quite a bit of information out there about him online. It was somewhere around that time that Carson decided to start a blog.
When he went to Capitol Hill, we started that blog. What really boosted the people looking at his blog was when he went to a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation co-sponsored contest with Ford Motor Company and he won for the country and designed a race car. Ford Motor Company put his blog in a piece that blasted out to every dealer. His blog was getting thousands of hits daily.
From there, people started calling us. At times, I almost had to be sure that I was not trying to put my kid out there — because to be honest when you get a lot of popularity online, it can boost a parent too. I had to be very careful that I wasn’t exploiting my child. There were times we had to say he didn’t want to do an interview. I had to listen to him as a young boy. Most everything he wanted to do. He wanted to do it but not because of the media. It’s because he had a passion for advocating for this disease to get cured.
Carson’s quick tips on how students can build their online presence:
- Create content that can go far
- Find a mentor
- Be persistent
What are some tips for other parents who are wondering how their student can be online in a positive way?
I’m a school counselor over in Spokane Elementary School. We talk to kids all the time about digital footprints. We warn them that their digital footprint can be positive or negative. I was a little bit leery at first of Carson being online. We didn’t go searching for popularity online, it kind of came to us. But we have found the positive in it.