Summer 2014 is firmly etched into the minds of 23 Waikato children living with diabetes, even as the season draws to a close.
And this year the holiday memories are not of insulin injecting and blood glucose monitoring. They are merry ones of swimming, kayaking, arts and crafts, baking, team challenges and sports.
All thanks to the annual Waikato Diabetes Kids Camp.
The camp, which this year ran for one week during the January school holidays, is organised by the Waikids paediatric diabetes team at Waikato DHB and funded by Diabetes Waikato.
Key organiser Waikato DHB clinical psychologist Joanna McClintock said invitations are sent to all Waikato DHB patients aged between 7 and 12 years old with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
“These children, in their day to day lives, often have minimal contact with others who face the same challenges that they face with diabetes,” she said.
Diabetes means their bodies either can’t make insulin or the insulin doesn’t work in their bodies like it should. The glucose can’t get into the cells normally, so the blood glucose level gets too high. Lots of glucose in the blood makes them sick if they don’t have insulin injections and get treatment.
“The Waikato Diabetes Kids Camp is a chance for them to participate in activities in an environment where they are the majority instead of the minority. What’s more, the importance of the camp lies not only in a week of fun for kids, but a week of respite for parents.”
And the proof is in the pudding.
“Looking at feedback from the camp, one kids said; ‘It’s just so good to be with other people who understand what I have to deal with every day of my life. It’s helpful to come to camp and be a normal kid,’” Dr McClintock said.
Staff from Waikato DHB, Raukura Hauora o Tainui and representatives from the two Pharmac funded pump companies supervise and oversee the activities and diabetes management by helping kids check their blood glucose levels and give them insulin during the day.
“Seeing children engage in diabetes management tasks that they have not completed independently before is a key highlight of these camps,” Dr McClintock said.
This year marked the camp’s tenth anniversary, to which four camp staff have attended all ten of the camps held since 1994.
And although organising for the next year’s camp begins as soon as the previous camp finished, Dr McClintock says the countless hours of work are all worth it.
“It’s a huge effort, but it’s of huge value. The pleasure kids and their families receive makes it all worthwhile,” she said.
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