Highbridge Hill student recognized for positive attitude in face of chronic disease
Third-grader Joseph Lisio, of New Ipswich proudly holds up his catch during a fishing trip on Lake Ontario with his father.
Highbridge Hill Elementary School student Joseph Lisio got the chance to meet Governor-elect Maggie Hassan last week, when he and 16 other young New Hampshire school children were named "Champion Children" by the state council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions for keeping positive attitudes in the face of chronic illnesses. Lisio, who is diabetic, was nominated for the award by his school nurse.
Joseph Lisio, on his first day of third grade at Highbridge Hill Elementary School. While at school, Lisio, who is diabetic, is responsible for visiting School Nurse Nancy Jones two to four times a day to monitor his blood sugar and administer insulin.
Joseph Lisio, 7, of New Ipswich, a third-grader at Highbridge Hill Elementary School in New Ipswich, is diabetic and manages his condition with an insulin pump. But he’s never let his illness get in the way of being active, according to school nurse Nancy Jones, who nominated Joseph for the Champion Children Award.
“I thought of Joseph right off,” Jones said. “He handles his diabetes so maturely. He’s always so upbeat, never reluctant to test, and he won’t skip class because of his condition. When he comes down [to the nurse’s office], it’s always legitimate.”
Joseph will see Jones on an average of two to four times a day to test his blood sugar and calculate his insulin levels, she said.
Joseph doesn’t let it get him down at all. He doesn’t feel hampered by his diabetes, he said in a telephone interview Monday — he still likes to play baseball and fish and ride his bike with his friends.
“I can do a lot of the same things, pretty much everything I did when I was younger and I didn’t have [diabetes],” he said.
He’s unaffected by the number of times a day he has to visit the nurse each day. His teachers’ let him out of class when he needs to go, he said, and he rarely misses work because of it. It’s merely something he’s had to do every day.
Joseph’s mother, Martha Lisio, said in a phone interview Monday that Joseph, who was diagnosed at age seven, isn’t the only member of the family who is dealing with a chronic health condition — his father, Joseph Lisio Jr. has had diabetes for more than 20 years. Lisio said she wasn’t expecting how different Joseph’s condition would be from her experience with that of her husband. “I was shocked at how different it was. I thought I knew a lot about the disease, but I’ve realized my husband had been doing so much every day that I didn’t know about,” she said.
Joseph’s condition has forced him to take on a lot of responsibility, Lisio said. When he’s at school, he has to make sure that he’s aware of his blood sugar levels, leaving the class to get it checked and arranging his schedule with the school nurse so that exams are arranged around his eating schedule.
“Along with doing his school work he has to be aware of his body, and be responsible for knowing when he doesn’t feel good or needs to go to the nurse to check his blood sugar,” said Lisio.
But it’s a responsibility he’s taken on better than most, his mother said, noting he’s a normal little boy that likes to play baseball, fish with his brother and dad and play in the snow.
“He doesn’t talk about it, he just does it,” said Lisio. “It’s been a year and a half since he was diagnosed, and only twice have I heard him say, ‘I wish I didn’t have it.’ He knows he has to [deal with] it, and he doesn’t think about what it used to be like, or what it would be like without it.”
It was Joseph’s matter-of-fact attitude toward managing his illness that inspired Jones — who works daily with Joseph to help him manage his insulin — to nominate him for the Champion Child Award.
Lisio said she was appreciative of the organization’s mission and message. “It’s wonderful. I love that Joseph was shown that not everyone deals with it as well as he has,” she said. “He deals with it the only way he knows how — he just does it. It was nice to have someone tell him that he’s been doing a really, really good job.”
“Joseph is an inspiration. We are so happy to learn his story and tell it to others,” said Jeff Woodburn, executive director of the State Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Friday.
Joseph has never felt held back because of his diabetes. He dreams of being a professional ball player or fisherman when he grows up, and his condition doesn’t factor into it. He said that kids facing a chronic illness shouldn’t be afraid of it.