Preteens find peer support at the Berrie Center

For a group of 12 preteens, a visit to the Berrie Center on March 31 was more about games and pizza than A1cs and exams. Led by child life specialist Kelli Ferguson and social worker Diana Cory, the Berrie Connect preteen event was an opportunity for 8-12 year olds to socialize and talk openly about life with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Equally as important, the parents of the preteens formed an impromptu support group while waiting outside in the lobby.    

Kelli and Diana broke the ice with a group game of mad libs followed by never have I ever. Once everyone’s creative juice started flowing the leaders engaged the preteens in an exercise called past, present and future. This gave the group a chance to talk about what their life was like before T1D, what it is like now with T1D, and what it will be like in the future.

“It’s so hard to talk about,” said a participant who was thinking about her life today with T1D.

“How do you spell ‘carefree’?” asked one girl who was contemplating a future free of T1D.

Other future sentiments included: “I want to be a doctor!” and “Cure diabetes!”.

Said Diana Cory, "In typical preteen fashion, some kids looked really anxious at the beginning and the end they were laughing and really comfortable with each other. Overall, it once again showed us from a psychosocial perspective how important it is to offer opportunities for our patients to connect.”

Through the generosity of our sponsors this program was offered free of charge. The next Berrie Connect preteen event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 6. Current Berrie Center preteen patients are encouraged to attend. Please contact BerrieEvents@cumc.columbia.edu for more information. For a list of upcoming events please visit our Events Calendar.

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