Using Partnerships to Create a Medical Specialty Camp for Youth with Diabetes
Keywords:type 1 diabetes, partnership, resilience, medical specialty camp, outcome-focused programming, youth outcomes.
Complications associated with a complex chronic illness, specifically, type 1 diabetes, negatively impact youth as they struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles. Type 1 diabetes is the second most common chronic illness affecting youth as well as one of the most psychologically and behaviorally demanding illnesses. Fortunately, organized camps have been shown to positively influence long-term outcomes for youth. Family Diabetes Camp, the only family medical program in the state where this study occurred, was created in collaboration with a local university, a diabetes center at a hospital, and a chapter of the Lions Club. This collaborative camp program aimed to test the effect of active participation in a Family Diabetes Camp upon youth outcomes for campers with type 1 diabetes. Specifically, the purpose was to evaluate the impact of a collaborative medical camp on campers’ resilience and youth developmental outcomes (e.g., independence). Family Diabetes Camp was designed using Outcome-Focused Programming (OFP) to promote positive youth development. The Family Diabetes Camp included 50 campers for the pre-test and post-test (n= 19 males and n= 31 females). While there were no statistically significant differences from pretest (M=4.97, SD= .53) to post-test scores (M=5.01, SD= .46), with t(50) = -.56, p= .57) researchers found a slight increase in resilience from pre to post-test. Using a retrospective measure, campers showed gains in the seven critical youth development outcomes identified by the American Camp Association. Finally, campers learned new knowledge about site injection, carbohydrate counting, and the use of exercise to help manage their diabetes. The impact associated with adapting activities and an environment to encourage, analyze, and challenge resilient behaviors is essential in encouraging independence, shared experiences, and effective disease management for youth living with type 1 diabetes. The camp, solely staffed by volunteers, included physicians, diabetes educators, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, dietitians, nurses, pump specialists, recreation professionals and students, and Lions Club Members. The camp program is unique not only in how it fills a void for youth with type 1 diabetes but how three large organizations work in concert to meet the needs of entire families. These types of data can be instrumental in establishing more camps and other out of school time programming that positively impacts quality of life, health care cost, and mortality among youth with type 1 diabetes.
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