This article appears in the January issue of 400 Life Magazine
South Forsyth High School senior Anjali Joshi has always had a passion for both the arts and sciences.
When she was a little girl, Anjali’s grandparents were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. So she began to research the disease to understand the symptoms and treatment.
What she discovered led her to combine the creativity of writing with her medical knowledge from science, to create a children's book entitled “Learning About You Preventing Type Two.”
“The book was especially exciting for me because it allowed me to research a lot about health care and science and kind of dive in really deeply into that,” Anjali said. “But then it also allowed me to pursue the creativity of writing a book and going through that entire process. So it was really just kind of like the best of both worlds.”
Anjali began researching the disease at a young age and found a lack of information about children with the disease. She wanted to help, especially with prevention, so she started gathering information three years ago.
“I found that there was a gap in the educational material available for children,” Anjali said.
Passionate about the obesity crisis in America, she chose to focus on prevention for her book because she had seen the consequences of Type 2 diabetes in her grandparents.
Anjali began to write the book in the middle of 2019, and found a publisher, Joshua B. Wichterich. They worked closely together going over each page carefully, making sure every detail was perfect.
“It was so interesting to give [Joshua] my ideas and then collaborate with him to create an end product that we were both really proud of,” Anjali said. “It was also really special to work with an illustrator who has had Type 2 diabetes hit really close to home for him.”
She came up with five basic steps for prevention and shared the first three with 400 Life, but kept the remaining two a secret so children will be able to discover the spoilers for themselves when they read her book.
The three steps to preventing Type 2 diabetes in children are limiting screen time, making sure to get 60 minutes of fitness every day and visiting doctors for wellness checkups regularly.
Anjali incorporated her keys to prevention in a fun, engaging way, including a whimsical story about characters based on people in her life and interactive healthy recipes that families can make at home.
The main character, Anika, follows much the same journey as Anjali did as a little girl. Her grandmother has Type 2 diabetes, and Anika takes it upon herself to research the disease and learn about treatment and prevention.
Anika gets up to some wacky shenanigans in the book, going so far as throwing an avocado across her classroom to convey the message of healthy eating. What makes Anika’s character particularly special to Anjali is that she is inspired by her younger sister.
“As I was thinking, ‘Who in my life would [throw an avocado across the room]?’ It [made me think] that is something my sister would do,” Anjali said. “So it was … special to me to include her in the book in that way, and it kind of just made sense to me.”
Her English teacher from South Forsyth High School, Vince Reynolds, helped fuel her passion for writing and inspired her to continue with the craft.
“The special thing is that the teacher in my book is actually named Mr. Reynolds,” Anjali said, “And that was inspired by him.”
Anjali’s goal in writing her children’s book was not to discuss treatment of the disease, but to help children and families prevent diabetes in children as young as 9 and 10. She also hopes to spread awareness about the obesity crisis in America and encourage families to take steps to prevent early-onset diabetes.
The response Anjali has received from the community has been overwhelming, she said. Because of her book, she has been able to reconnect with old acquaintances, including her elementary school principal who shared her book at school.
“Something really special has also been hearing back from children and families that have read it and hearing them say that reading the book has actually helped them enact a lifestyle change,” Anjali said. “When you hear that firsthand from families and children, that’s really something special."
Next steps for Anjali include researching her next topic for her Learning About You series: healthy bones. She hopes to continue the series by touching on different conditions and diseases for children aged 2 to 12.
Anjali also hopes to pursue a career in the medical field where she can further her knowledge of diseases and conditions to continue to spread understanding and awareness about prevention for years to come.
Anjali’s book “Learning About You Preventing Type Two” is available for purchase on Amazon.