With a doctor and his teddy bear, Rufus, by his side, Carson Christians, 7, listened intently as his team showed him how to use a diabetes pump.
“This is really cool,” he said.
Carson and 15 other children with diabetes attended a clinic Saturday morning at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, where they learned about managing the condition.
The event, hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, provided a Rufus teddy bear to each child, which helped guide them through the lessons.
Doctors and clinical team members from the children’s hospital worked one-on-one with the children at a variety of learning stations.
The Rufus bears were a big hit.
As Rufus learned about his condition, the children learned about theirs.
Rufus had patches on his body to show where pokes might happen. The kids also learned about the devices that relay important health information to doctors and care team members.
“The kids are having fun and it’s great for them to meet other kids who have diabetes,” Stacey, Carson’s mom, said. “And to meet their doctors outside of an appointment is really nice, too.”
Each child received a bag that included toys, a teddy bear and games that would add a little fun to lessons about monitoring glucose levels.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital team members led the six different learning stations. The children received a scorecard for participating at each station.
By morning’s end, they were all certified as official Rufus caretakers, diplomas in hand.
The stations highlighted diabetes topics and presented new ways to play with the teddy bears. It empowered the kids to play a role in their own care.
One station focused on diet and nutrition for people with diabetes. Another taught about technology. Yet another delved into the wonders of insulin pumps.
Nader Kasim, MD, pediatric endocrinology physician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, led a session about technology and diabetes. As he sat with the kids, he explained how the various devices work.
“The intention is for kids to have fun,” Dr. Kasim said. “Hopefully kids walk away feeling more comfortable about diabetes after learning a little about their condition. And hopefully they determine who they want to be with their diabetes.”
Donna Eng, MD, with pediatric endocrinology at the children’s hospital, taught families about the effects of sugar and candies, and how to control sugar when you’re on the go.
At another station, registered dietitian Sara Koepke, RD, showed the kiddos how to build a healthy plate by incorporating plenty of vegetables, fruits, grains and protein.
“Today, we are learning about carb counting,” she said. “It helps kids dose insulin and control their sugar. How to balance your plate is very important for these kids.”
Macy Tousey, 11, learned about creating a proper plate.
“For the most part, we have these things at home already,” Macy said. “Strawberries and fruits are my favorite. And salad, too.”
Shelley Kengis and her daughter, Elanore, 10, were excited to attend their first event on the topic of diabetes. Elanore had recently been diagnosed in May, so the information was still quite new to her.
“It’s great for the kids to see their peers,” Shelley said. “They are all going through the same struggles and issues. It is great to bring them together and enjoy the time learning about their diagnosis.”
My daughter was diagnosed at the tender age of 3 with Type I Diabetes. Rufus is still around and she is almost 26! It was a life saver for us teaching her injections, finger pokes and “showing” her vs “telling” her it was going to be okay. She would practice on Rufus several times a day and before she had her own “pokes”. Rufus always accompanied her during doctor visits and was a constant companion through her daily routine and transitions in care.
This is so awesome for the kids. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four in 1987. This would have been such a wonderful tool to have had for her on her journey with the illness.