Diabetes Tasmania

Spring camp

The Tasmanian Community Fund provided a little over $13 000 to Diabetes Tasmania in grant round 24 to provide opportunities for children living with Type 1 diabetes to share experiences and gain a greater understanding of their condition.

Diabetes Tasmania is committed to maximising the quality of life of Tasmanians affected by or at risk of diabetes through education and support and through empowering individuals to know when, where and how to obtain assistance. Type 1 diabetes is a life threatening, unpreventable autoimmune disease that typically occurs during childhood and adolescence and involves life-long and daily insulin replacement therapy. Diabetes Tasmania has regularly held a week long camp for 7 to 12 year olds with Type 1 diabetes to provide them with an opportunity to explore their illness, share their experiences with others and to gain a greater understanding of their illness. 

These camps have provided opportunities for the young people to improve their understanding of their illness outside of the sometimes stressful traditional clinical setting and to explore their illness through fun and interactive activities. Diabetes Tasmania identified that younger camp attendees (7-9 year olds) were often having their first away from home experience and that the stresses related with being away from home was impacting on their camp and learning experience and the experience of older participating children. Through Tasmanian Community Fund support Diabetes Tasmania was able to trial a weekend camp specifically for 7-9 year olds and their parents. Type 1 diabetes affects more than 360 young Tasmanians, and a dozen people attended this camp, with their mum or dad by their side for emotional support. Together, and independently, they explored diet, participated in clinical care, physical play and personal challenges in a supportive environment that enabled the young people and their parents to fully participate in a fun and safe way whilst learning more about their illness, the lifelong impact, treatments and coping strategies.

The camp provided an opportunity for the young people to meet and meaningfully interact with other children their age who are facing the same challenges in managing diabetes. Together the young people took their own blood sugar, recorded it and calculated their insulin dose under the supervision of health professionals. They also participated in games and exercises that allowed them to count the carbs in the food they were eating – an essential part of diabetes management. The camp also provided an opportunity for parents to share experiences and relieve the pressure of feeling alone and unsupported. They were able to talk privately, without their children overhearing, about the pressure that the disease places on the whole family and they discussed ways that they each cope. Through these discussions they have built a support network for themselves.

Diabetes Tasmania received exceptional feedback from parents and the children who participated in the camp which has reinforced the value of the project. Following on from the success of the trial camp Diabetes Tasmania will launch a fundraising campaign to cover the expenses of future camps targeted specifically at 7 to 9 year olds.