Berrie Center Patient, 10
A Rising Star in Salsa Scene

When Chanel Roman was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (she was 2) her mom Karina took to heart a piece of advice she received from everyone, including the doctor: “Keep Chanel active.” And so she


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did. Chanel loved to dance, even as a toddler, so when she was old enough, her mom enrolled her in a salsa dance school in the neighborhood in the Bronx where they live. Today, says her dad, at 10, “she is considered a rising star in the salsa scene.”

Salsa Dancing is HUGE in Latin Communities across the country—and for Chanel Roman, it is way beyond regulating her A1C levels at this point. “It’s fun and entertaining and I get to travel the world,” said Chanel, who spent Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles at a “Salsa Congress” where dancers (she dances with a partner on a junior team) share their moves. Over the 4th of July Chanel and her family will be in Puerto Rico—a mecca for Salsa dancers.

Similar to the workout you get with Zumba, Salsa dancing focuses on exercising virtually all major muscle groups in the body (the gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) and, of course, the cardiovascular system since the dancing is fast paced and the musical pieces relatively long.  “It helps me with my diabetes,” said Chanel. “When I get home, my blood sugars are always normal.”

At the small studio in the Bronx where Chanel attends dance class, there are three other girls with type 1 diabetes. “She was shy about wearing her pump, but now she feels free,” said Karina. “You just never really know when you’re going to meet someone else with diabetes.

Chanel credits her pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Rachelle Gandica, with helping her discover her passion. “Without the help of Dr. Gandica and the Berrie Center I probably wouldn't be dancing today.”