ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A teen in Arvada is using her own health experiences to help others.
“I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2nd grade. I was 8 years old,” Emma Graziano said.
Ten years later, and its she continues to think about every single day.
“Definitely impacts me… what I have to eat… make sure that I can find something to eat. Kind of changes the life a little bit,” she said.
Dr. Mary Shull with Children’s Hospital Colorado says those living with the disease must abide by a strict diet.
“Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily effects the intestines,” she said.
Watching what you eat day in and day out can be difficult to do at any age.
“Food is such an important social activity for so many people so feeling like you’re different can be very hard especially as a teenager,” Shull said.
The solution, a support group geared toward young people. Graziano came up with the idea and used her role as a girl scout to make it happen.
“Dinner meetups where we get together. We find a gluten free place. We make connections. We share experiences in the past we have shared some of our favorite recipes,” she said.
While the 17-year-old is busy holding meetings, she is also aiming to get accurate information out to the community.
A role Shull was more than qualified to help with.
“So I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was a teenager and would have loved to have Emma’s group,” she said.
In just a few months, Graziano says she is already seeing success.
“Seeing how it’s gone so far and everybody is so positive we really enjoy sharing these experiences and making these connections,” she said.
The Denver Celiac Support group will hold a Celiac panel discussion, Emma now the groups Cel-Teens leader will be leading the discussion.
It will be held on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Belmar Library in Lakewood.
Shull says anyone wanting to check for celiac disease can do so with a simple test, to learn more you can visit ASKhealth.org.