Youth Diabetes Sports Camp – Mobilizing Knowledge for Exercise and Diabetes

The fourth annual York University Youth Diabetes Sports Camp has come to an end. Yet there remains plenty to celebrate. York’s KMb Unit was proud to witness the successful conclusion to a unique knowledge mobilization initiative. Being there every step of the way during the two weeks of the Diabetes Sports Camp, we experienced a valuable partnership in action that was unique in its composition. This partnership was between the youth participants at the camp who were engaged in their sport of interest (tennis, basketball, soccer or track and field) and the research team that was focused on learning more about glucose regulation during exercise and the prevention of hypoglycemia. This partnership flourished and provided everyone involved with plenty of fun, learning experiences, and invaluable data for research on type 1 diabetes metabolism.

During last year’s camp, Dr. Michael Riddell conducted a study that examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance for youth ages 6-17. These youth had their blood glucose levels monitored in real time using new technology supplied by Medtronic Canada for the week as they engaged in soccer, basketball, or tennis, and even as they slept. The goal was to see how sports performance is affected by oscillations in blood sugar levels. The study, which was published this year in the International Journal of Pediatrics, found that optimal athletic performance was observed when blood glucose levels were in the normal range. A slight deterioration in performance was observed when blood sugar levels were a little bit above the normal range. However, the study found that there was considerable deterioration in performance when blood glucose levels were lower than the normal range (4-7 mmol); this is a condition called hypoglycemia.

This year Dr. Riddell and his team are advancing this area of research by collecting data using real time glucose monitoring on a newly developed carbohydrate intake algorithm that prevents hypoglycemia during exercise. With this research, they hope to optimize nutritional strategies for the prevention of low blood sugar in young active individuals with type 1 diabetes.

This research is the first of its kind to be tested outside of the laboratory in a field setting. However, what may be equally important is the process of knowledge exchange that the Diabetes Sports Camp has facilitated. Besides the fun and excitement that the young campers got throughout the duration of the camp, they were also taught various strategies to help manage their diabetes and encouraged to share their experiences with other campers who have diabetes. In return, Dr. Riddell received important data for his research that he plans to share in an upcoming symposium at the International Society for         Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), taking place from October 27 – 30, 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is classic KMb, bi-directional flow of knowledge that can help inform health policy, foster emerging research questions, as well as inform individual practices in safe blood sugar regulation in young patients with type 1 diabetes. This is KMb that is practical and benefits all parties involved.

Stay tuned for the KMb in Action story on the Youth Diabetes Camp which can be found on the ResearchImpact website.

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Week 2 of the Youth Diabetes Camp – Overall Youth Experience

By the end of the second week of the Youth Diabetes Sports Camp, the kids have made new friendships and greatly improved their skills in sports. York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit interviewed kids with diabetes about some of their impressions and experiences at camp.

The children with Type 1 greatly appreciate the opportunities that they are given at this camp. Overwhelmingly, the kids admire the unique nature of the camp, the first sports camp of its kind that brings together kids and adolescents with diabetes with diabetes councilors and varsity level coaches. Most importantly, they get to meet other kids with diabetes and share their challenges as well as their experience managing their condition. Many of the kids said that prior to attending this camp they had not met very many young people with their condition who are so interested in sports. At this camp, there were approximately 30 kids and adolescents with diabetes, there were counselors who have diabetes, as well as guest speakers who excel despite their disease.

Among the guest speakers at the diabetes camp was Chris Jarvis, a prominent Olympic rower and Pan Am gold medalist with type 1. Chris talked about the “highs” and “lows” while being on the Canadian National rowing team and competing in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Prior to joining the kids to play their respective sports, Mr. Jarvis spoke to the young campers about living with diabetes and overcoming numerous challenges including challenges with his glucose control and facing losses in competition. Chris spoke about the importance of “team” support in helping to facilitate his success both on and off the boat. Overall, the kids found their camp experience to be inspiring. The goal was to show that having diabetes should not hinder anyone from pursuing a career in competitive sports. And that is something that the kids certainly understood and appreciated by the end of camp.

Of course, there is also the fun factor. The kids were happy to share excitement and laughter while becoming more proficient in their favorite sport. The children were very fond of the camp counselors. They were happy to get excellent instruction from some of York’s finest varsity athletes. However, counselors were more than just the kids’ coaches. They made sure to befriend them as well and did a great job connecting on the kids’ level, making their camp experience that much more enjoyable.

The most amazing thing about this camp is the fact that, while the youth with diabetes had an overwhelmingly positive experience, they also contributed to valuable research on how sports and exercise affect glucose control and how exercise can help manage diabetes and improve quality of life. This is a prime example of knowledge mobilization and a bi-directional flow of knowledge. The kids learned new strategies on managing their diabetes while Dr. Riddell gets valuable data for his research on exercise and diabetes.

Week One of Youth Diabetes Camp – Interview with Dr. Michael Riddell

The first week of the Youth Type 1 Diabetes Sports Camp, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit interviewed Prof. Michael Riddell, asking him about some of his reasons and motivations for starting this camp. We also began to learn more about what the camp is all about.

Dr. Riddell was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 14 and continued to be a very active adolescent engaging in various sports, including basketball, tennis and mountain biking throughout the time of his diagnosis. Although at the time of the diagnosis, there was limited research on the effects of sports on diabetes. Dr. Riddell eventually went on to get his PhD, specializing in energy metabolism during exercise in children and adolescents. In the ensuing years he decided to focus his research on how exercise affects blood glucose levels in persons with type 1 diabetes. 3 years ago Dr Riddell noticed that although adults with diabetes had the opportunity to go to a newly established sports camp in the U.S., none were in place for children. This set in motion the start of the Diabetes Sports Camp at York University, a unique camp in that it is the first of its kind.

Now children aged 8-16 with diabetes have the opportunity to engage in a sport of their choosing where they will receive excellent coaching from varsity athletes as well as guidance on how to best manage their condition. This camp is now run in conjunction with the York University Sports and Recreation summer camps offered to all youth between the ages of 8-16 years. Not only are children with diabetes able to develop their athletic skills in a monitored environment, but they are able to share stories and strategies with other children who have diabetes.

Dr. Riddell has been running this camp for 3 years with the aim to further his research in the field of sports, active living and their effects on diabetes. Last year’s camp was the basis for a study that has been published in the International Journal of Pediatrics last week. This research examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance in youth with Type 1. This year’s camp also has a research component focusing on the development of new strategies to prevent low blood sugar levels. Kids are mobilizing knowledge by having fun and by contributing to the study. This is what KMb is all about!

Week One of Youth Diabetes Camp – Active Living with Diabetes

Monday, July 19 was the launch of the 3rd Annual Type 1 Diabetes Youth Sports Camp at York University. Dr. Michael Riddell started the Diabetes Camp in 2007 for active children and adolescents, ages 8-16, with type 1 diabetes and the numbers have grown from just 10 kids in 2007 to about 30 this year. The Diabetes Hope Foundation, Tracey Rubinoff Diabetes Hope Fund, and Medtronic Canada are all helping to support this initiative with York University’s Department of Sports and Recreation.

The purpose of this camp is to give the opportunity to diabetic kids to excel in their favorite sport, along with non diabetic kids of similar age and sporting skill levels, as well as to help manage their condition through active living. This is done through an on-site clinical care team of nurses, physiologists and athletic therapists who work along side the exceptional coaching staff and varsity athletes. The kids with diabetes are encouraged to discuss their diabetes care with the on-site team and help is provided from athletes with diabetes who serve as diabetes councilors to assist with blood glucose monitoring and by sharing some of their own strategies on modifications to insulin and or carbohydrate intake. The kids have the opportunity to get together and share stories about active living with their diabetes. The sports offered this year include a focus on either basketball, track and field, soccer, or tennis and a free swim is offered every day from 2-3 in the varsity pool.

The first day of filming the camp for an upcoming KMb in Action story, the children had an opportunity to get acquainted with the sport of their choosing as well as with one another. The next day there was plenty of chatter and laughter as well as enthusiasm and eagerness to excel in their respective sports. The kids get coached at university level by varsity athletes and special guests who also have diabetes. This perfect mix of excellent instruction in sports as well as instruction on management of diabetes informed by cutting edge research creates a really fun atmosphere for the children and makes for a great learning experience. Last year’s study looked at blood glucose levels and sports performance which is published now online at the International Journal of Pediatrics. This year’s study is using a special carbohydrate intake algorithm devised by Dr. Riddell and his research team (Jill Milliken and Dylan Kelly) to help prevent low blood sugar. For the remainder of the two weeks of the Diabetes Camp, the children’s blood glucose levels will be monitored in real time throughout the day, using the Medtronic GuardianRT, as they engage in various sports. Dr. Riddell hopes that the camp and experience of the children participating will help inform his research on diabetes and its impact on sports performance.

This is a great example of knowledge mobilization and turning research into action. Stay tuned for more highlights in the coming weeks.