By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March. 10, 2012
He is a mountain biker, a skier, a scuba diver, but Stephen Lang is more than just a West Coast adventurer.
He is a survivor, and an inspirer for teenagers who look up to him and his never-say-die spirit.
This Squamish native was a big fan of outdoors from a young age, but was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 17.
Type 1 diabetes–in which pancreas does not produce insulin—is not caused by eating too much sugar, even though that might be the common perception.
Lang said the public perception and the stigma attached to diabetes was worse than the condition itself.
“I never felt supported. Everyone wanted me to just relax and take it easy, while I wanted to explore the outdoors,” he said.
Despite, or perhaps because of his diabetes, he decided to push the limits of his body, surfing, skiing, and snowmobiling, doing what he had always wanted to do.
“I wanted to show people what I was capable of,” he said.
It was that spirit of triumph in the face of adversity that inspired him to help other teenagers.
He started working with a company that ran adventure programs for at risk youth and youth with disabilities.
In 2009, he started his own company called the Points West Adventures.
By organising day programs that involve tips on healthy eating and exercise, to week-long hiking and kayaking trips, Lang now empowers teenagers who have Type 1 diabetes.
On any given months, he is with teenagers who have Type 1 diabetes, hiking, skiing, or kayaking.
Being outside is a morale booster for them, he says.
For anyone, and particularly for teens, diabetes can be a challenging issue to deal with, he says.
“Balancing blood sugars, hormones, friends, living a normal life as a teenager can be overwhelming,” he says.
“The program that I offer at least gives the tools to deal with those issues.”