Chelsea Piers, the Met and Matilda on Broadway. A ropes course, a poetry workshop and Lucky Strike Bowling. Confidence building and making new friends—these were a few of our favorite activities from the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center’s 2016 Summer Fun Program, a day camp-like program for kids with type 1 diabetes (T1D). In its 17th year, this year’s program (July 11 to July 15, 2016), was a huge success.
“The Berrie Summer Fun program brings together a great mix of Berrie Center pediatric patients for a week of joy, laughter, and bonding,” said Kelli Ferguson, CCLS, the William Berkley, III, child life specialist at the Berrie Center and Summer Fun Program Director. “The Berrie Center team provides five days of fun in a safe environment for the kids, and five worry-free days for the parents. It was special to witness.”
The program is for Berrie Center patients (8 to 12 years old) and is available to families free of tuition thanks to gifts from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and many other generous friends and families of the Berrie Center.
This year the Summer Fun Program was attended by 20 campers and staffed by 10 teenage counselors-in-training (all Berrie Center patients with T1D) along with the child life specialist, social worker, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric endocrinology fellows, diabetes educators, and research coordinators. Each day had a special theme (Taking Care of Your Body, Express Yourself, Authentic Me, I Am Empowered, and Friendship) that was reflected in the activities.
Not only was the experience of “diabetes camp” beneficial for the campers. Counselors also reported feeling empowered by the experience. “I feel like my diabetes management improved by the end of the week,” said Taylor Kennedy, a first year CIT. “Watching the little kids test their blood sugar and take their insulin made me want to take better control of my own diabetes.”
In addition to taking in the sights of New York City, going on a tour of the laboratories at the Berrie Center, led by Co-Director Rudy Leibel, MD, is a perennial favorite for the kids. The update on stem cell research was so inspiring that CIT Roman Pinto couldn’t fathom what could be holding Dr. Leibel and his team back from finding the cure for diabetes. “Ok, this all sounds great, so what is exactly is the problem?” he asked.
The questions and comments were insightful and stimulating, as they are every year: What causes low blood sugar? How many types of diabetes exist? What role does DNA play in diabetes?
And, back by popular demand, was a one-hour poetry workshop with Mary Elizabeth Bunzel, where campers analyzed some of the greats (Dickenson, Emerson, Gibran and Angelou) and were encouraged to write their own.
“It is such a privilege to be part of the NBDC summer fun program,” said Mary Elizabeth, a mother of a son with T1D and a member of the Berrie Center’s Advisory Board. “Everyone was outstanding from campers to CITs to staff.”
“The Berrie Summer Fun Program was a week of learning, bonding and summer time fun,” Kelli said. “We are so grateful to everyone who helps makes this possible.”
Parents with children ages 8-12 who are interested in learning more about the Summer Fun Program for 2017 should contact child life specialist Kelli Ferguson. To make a donation to the Berrie Summer Fun Program click here.
Enjoy the photos from the 2016 Summer Fun Program.