Camp tackles diabetes

2015-06-17 06:00

THE number of children affected by Type 1 or early-onset diabetes increases annually and it is therefore important to create awareness through education and support. Education from a young age will help to manage diabetes better, as it will give children a better understanding of their condition.

The Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, supported by Youth with Diabetes, along with the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, this year hosted its seventh annual camp for children with diabetes.

Children cared for by doctors in the private sector, of the National Defence Force (NDF), as well as of state hospitals, attended the camp hosted at the Sandstone Sleeper Estate on the weekend of 8 May. The aim of the camp was to offer a weekend filled with fun and learning.

The camp started off with fourth-year Dietetics students welcoming the campers. The theme was Circus. This allowed the students to dress up and it gave the camp a fun edge. The students were involved in planning and preparing the meals and presenting numerous educational activities.

The games were educational, as well as fun, and a favourite was the My Plate race. During this activity children had to build their own healthy plate of food by choosing from different food groups and placing it on the My Plate example, which is commonly used to explain a healthy diet, as well as carbohydrate counting.

The students applied their knowledge of dietary requirements for diabetes, such as carbohydrate counting, when preparing the snacks and meals for the weekend.

The camp also made use of youth leaders, who themselves have diabetes and had previously attended this camp. They were chosen to complete a training programme in Johannesburg prior to the camp. These children have a good understanding of what it means to live with diabetes and thus they provided the other campers with emotional support and encouragement when needed.

Students benefitted from the opportunity to experience first-hand how to live with diabetes, as they were involved during the testing of blood glucose levels, the injection of insulin and handling problems such as low and high blood glucose levels. Usually these problems will be handled by giving emergency snacks, normally high in sugar.

To close this exciting weekend, the third- year Dietetics students hosted, planned and prepared a Sunday lunch for the children, as well as everyone involved with the planning.

Children who attended the camp for the first time made friends and learnt new facts. Children who had attended previously had become smart in carbohydrate counting and understood the underlying problems associated with diabetes.

Everyone left with a state of mind that we can dia-BEAT this.

) Wieda Human and Christine Steyn are fourth-year students in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Free State (UFS)

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