FAU Nurse Practitioner Students and Faculty Help Children with Type One Diabetes Enjoy Camp in a Safe Environment
After nearly 12 months of planning, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Camp Gene recently hosted a day camp for children with type one diabetes at the Levi Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton. Under the direction of Shaunte Young, who served as the ADA camp director, along with sponsors from the Isenberg Family Charitable Foundation, Inc., the Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation, Walgreens and FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, 11 children with type one diabetes ranging in ages from 7-13 years enjoyed an exciting camp experience, made new friends and learned valuable information about managing their type one diabetes.
ADA Camp Gene Nursing Director, Dr. Lynne Palma, associate professor in FAU’s College of Nursing and 10 nurse practitioner students provided medical supervision to help campers adjust to a camp environment. NP students that participated in the diabetes day camp came to appreciate what a child with type one diabetes and their families endure while coping with this disease that never goes away and needs to be managed 24 hours a day. With mentoring from Dr. Palma, Dr. Martha Taboada, pediatric endocrinologist, and Sandy Steiner, RN, medical director of the camp who is a certified diabetes educator (CDE), students were able to apply the principles they had previously learned in the classroom while at camp.
This “lived” experience taught graduate nursing students about carbohydrate counting, correction of elevated blood glucose, administration of insulin via injection or insulin pumps, and treatment of low blood glucose as campers engaged in typical camp activities, including archery, trapeze, swimming, arts and crafts, yoga, magic, science and much more. Most importantly, nursing students came to know how resilient children with type one diabetes are as they participate fully in the joys of childhood in spite of their diabetes.
Health care professionals often recommend diabetes camps as a mechanism to empower individuals to become more independent and autonomous, and, this way, live full lives with diabetes. Shared feelings, a sense of belonging, emotional support, development of self-confidence and a sense of autonomy, not to mention an encounter with the great outdoors, can enhance a camper’s mental, physical, social and spiritual growth. Campers learned from one another, as well as from the medical team, and also during dedicated group time devoted to education. The campers were introduced to “Heart Math” by Dr. Beth King, assistant professor at the College of Nursing, who was able to engage the campers and help them articulate emotions, and utilize methods to calm emotions that are considered depleting.
Dr. Sareen Grooper, who teaches nutrition in the College of Nursing and is a registered dietician, assisted with meal planning and helped the children make appropriate food choices during lunch. Since each gram of carbohydrate is accounted for and matched with an appropriate amount of insulin, Dr. Grooper demonstrated how portions of food vary by weighing the food sources with a scale that provided the exact carbohydrate content.
Dr. Lynne Palma hopes to be able to train the next generation of nurses that will be competent to manage children with type one diabetes in a camp setting or other setting. In addition, she hopes that students will aspire to become CDEs and sit for board certification for advanced diabetes management once they graduate.