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Children with Diabetes: Focus on Technology

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the Seattle weather predictions were awful! Storms! Ice! Wind! Chunky rain! Hmmm. The sun shone for much of the weekend and the weather was cold but glorious, encouraging CWD families to get outside for some fresh air and a walk in the downtown area. About 200 participants, mostly from the Pacific Northwest, joined us for the CWD Focus on Technology conference, held November 18-20 at the Renaissance Seattle.

By a show of hands, about 50% of the participants were brand new to CWD conferences, and about a quarter were fairly newly-diagnosed. Everyone was delighted to learn that, at CWD, learning is a family affair. The conference schedule featured programs all day Saturday and Sunday for parents, grandparents, adults with type 1, and children of all ages. Sessions were interspersed with beverage and snack breaks and meals -- perfect opportunities to discuss information that had just been presented, and also great opportunities to ask questions of the conference faculty.

Friday evening kicked off at 7:00 p.m. with Registration and a Reception for all of the participants and sponsors. This featured some yummy hors d'eouvres and a first opportunity to visit with the sponsors and exhibitors to learn about new products and programs available to families with type 1 diabetes. Thank you to Julia Mattingly and Heather Kyllo for offering such a warm welcome at Registration. And another huge thank you to the conference sponsors: Animas Corporation, JDRF, OneTouch®, Novo Nordisk, Roche Insulin Delivery Systems, and Sanofi-Aventis. CWD sponsors are conference partners in every sense of the word -- they help bring the best information to CWD events, and they spend the entire weekend with us, available for questions and discussions with adults and children alike.

Saturday morning following a very healthy breakfast for all of the conference families, Dr. Bruce Buckingham presented the opening keynote, "Diabetes Technology: Why Use Pumps and Sensors?" Dr. Buckingham is world-renowned as a leader in continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) research, and participants had plenty of questions for him throughout the weekend. Many thanks to Dr. Buckingham for being available the entire weekend to continue these very important conversations.

Following a coffee break, CWD President and Founder Jeff Hitchcock shared with conference participants "Care Suggestions According to CWD." These are common-sense and practical, and supported by the very best research. Included in the care suggestions: test blood glucose frequently; explore the insulin pump and continuous sensor options; and use the best insulins available. Jeff also had his 'CWD Dad' hat on, and he answered questions from the audience about his own family's challenges in dealing with type 1 diabetes. Jeff concluded his session by sharing that his daughter Marissa graduated from nursing school, achieved her BSN/RN, began working as an RN -- and is looking forward to getting married in May! Our kids and our families truly can embrace the challenges of type 1 diabetes and use those challenges to become the very best at whatever they set their minds and goals to achieve.

Following the morning keynotes, and after a delicious deli lunch complete with portion sizes and carb counts marked on every item on the buffet table, all of the participants attended breakout sessions. Gary Scheiner – known as a speaker who helps families make practical sense out of the most difficult of concepts – presented three sessions during the weekend – "Strike the Spike," "Sports, Exercise and BG Control", and "Making Sense of Sensor Data." Gary, who is an athlete with type 1 himself, suggested that adults and families who are interested in interacting more with athletes with type 1 (in terms of having good role models and access to newsletters and conferences) might want to read more about the Diabetes, Exercise, and Sports Association (DESA).

Also on Saturday afternoon, Joe Solowiejczyk presented a CWD favorite, "It's Not Just A Numbers Game." Joe – who recently celebrated 50 years of living well with type 1 diabetes – encouraged families to consider diabetes as 'so much more than numbers.' He advised that "You can hate taking care of your diabetes, but you have to do it; it's not negotiable." Joe, as usual, had families in both laughter and tears as we all acknowledged the sometimes overwhelming emotions in living with type 1.

CWD's Mike Schurig presented "Carb Counting in the Real World," which was a practical vs textbook look at how to account for carbs in everyday meals. Mike is CWD's conference dietitian, and he does a great job explaining the 'normal' carb-situations a family might have at home as well as the unusual situations – such as meals on vacation and at conferences!

Saturday evening -- the CWD Dinner! Kids, parents, and sponsors alike enjoyed a fabulous dinner and great conversation with new CWD friends. Many thanks to DJ Sam Billetdeaux for the evening's music, and to Scott Kyllo for the CWD slide show. Also on Saturday evening, Natalie Bellini – known for practical sessions and her humorous and engaging presentation style - combined efforts with Marissa Hitchcock for a discussion about "Parenting Your Teen With Type 1." There was great participation which included candid and sometimes emotional conversation ... very much appreciated by the parents who engaged.

Batuka! What? Batuka! A new type of exercise/dance – similar to Zumba – and taught by CWD's Harold Sanco. Harold gave conference families a first glimpse of this very fun and engaging workout on Saturday evening, as some extremely brave staff and participants (kids, too!) gave it a try. You will see more of Batuka at CWD conferences – we really enjoyed it!

Sunday morning ... 7:45 a.m. breakfast seemed early after the evening's festivities, but lots of great coffee and a very healthy breakfast got the morning started on the right foot! Saturday morning's keynote featured Dr. Irl Hirsch presenting "Non-Insulin Therapies." This talk featured a fascinating look at non-insulin hormones and medications that seem to have potential for significant impact on type 1 diabetes management.

After the morning coffee break, Natalie Bellini led a discussion about "Choosing the Right Infusion Set and Sensor." Natalie is known at CWD conferences for her no-nonsense (and sometimes very funny) presentation style, and she discussed the pros and cons of all of the infusion sets and sensors currently on the market. She also demonstrated how each infusion set and sensor works and looks when applied. Most importantly, Natalie stressed the importance of site rotation. This doesn't mean side to side, using the same two spots over and over. It means moving the set to at least several dozen different places on a person's body.

Sunday also included Crystal Jackson's "Managing Technology in School." To those parents struggling with the day to day management of type 1 within their child's classroom, Crystal's information and recommendations are invaluable. Sunday afternoon featured the moms discussion group, led by Lauren Lanning and Heather Kyllo, as well as the dads group, led by Scott Kyllo. Both groups covered a lot of territory, discussing situations spanning from toddlerhood through college. And both groups reported that -- as always with these discussions - there wasn't enough time for everyone to share their ideas, but it was great way to put closure on the conference and step forward to try something new!

CWD kids always have their own special programming at our conferences ... and Seattle Focus on Technology was no exception! The children grouped with others of the same age: Elementary for the 6-9 year olds, Tweens for the 10-12 year olds, and Teens for the 13-17 year olds. The 'younger than 6' crowd enjoyed two very fun days in childcare as well.

Under the leadership and guidance of leaders Lauren Lanning, Sunshine Abel, Georgia Spiropoulos, Sam Billetdeaux, and Grace Grande-Cassell, the elementary kids had a fabulous time with activities such as a Scavenger Hunt, Harold Time (fun exercise and games with Fitness Instructor Harold Sanco -- all the way from Washington, D.C.!), swimming in the really cool hotel pool on the 28th floor, and spending time with their very favorite role models: the CWD teenagers!

The tween program, led by Justin Abel, Carolyn Billetdeaux, and Adam Town, was equally as fun and adventurous. The tweens had exercise time with Harold, chat time with Natalie, Joe, and Carolyn, and swim time in the very cool hotel pool! Andrea Hulke from JDRF led a session with the tweens about type 1 research -- there were some excellent questions and very thoughtful discussion. The tween group also had a fun and creative session with the elementary group called "Carb Cars and Creatures." They additionally combined a session with the teens on "Mall Food: What's In This Stuff?" (very functional and funny -- led by teen coordinator Natalie Bellini).

The teen program, led by Marissa Hitchcock, Jim Vail, Chris Tull, and Natalie Bellini was a great mix of discussion, presentation, and exploration ... leading to a weekend of fun and learning! The teens explored new technology and research with Andrea Hulke from JDRF, and spent time discussing exercise and sports with Fitness Instructor Harold Sanco. On Sunday, the teens also spent mentoring time with the elementary group -- making friends, sharing, and then playing Giants, Elves, and Wizards together. These mentoring relationships between the different age groups are so important -- many thanks to the teen, tween, and elementary staff for working so hard to foster these interactions. The teens headed offsite to Pike Place Market on Sunday for lunch and some exploring time!

Last but not least, the "Under 6" group had a weekend of great fun with leaders Mark and Alanna Chambers. The children joined in some of the Harold Exercise Fun, they built a fort, watched movies, had a mini-scavenger hunt, and had some very creative crafts time.

CWD dietitian Mike Schurig once again spent months pulling together some great, healthy menus (and portion sizes and carb counts) for all of our meals. He created a delicious gluten free buffet at each meal for those who needed them. It always amazes the hotel management and dietary staff that we spend so much time and effort on this particular facet of our conferences ... but it is probably the most important thing that makes families feel safe about spending the weekend at a CWD event. So, kudos to Mike for another job well done, and many thanks to the Chef at the Renaissance Seattle for working so diligently with us on this! Additional thanks to Scott Kyllo for managing the IT/AV side of the conference… it made the entire weekend flow ever so smoothly!

CWD would not be able to hold conferences at all if not for the continued and consistent generosity of our sponsors. Many thanks once again to our sponsors including Animas Corporation, JDRF, OneTouch®, Novo Nordisk, Roche Insulin Delivery Systems, and Sanofi-Aventis; and additional thanks to the folks at Dex4 for supplying all of the glucose products to head off low blood sugars. The generosity of these companies in supporting CWD events and families, as well as their passion for helping our kids and everyone with diabetes to lead a full and healthy life, is extraordinary.

Finally, a big hug to the many people who helped out with this conference. You know who you are. We couldn't do this without you, and you have our most sincere thanks.


When did Sailor grow to be taller than Marissa?
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Joe Solo is always a favorite
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Tweens and teens learned about the nutritional content of mall food
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Sunshine found a used test strip stuck to her shirt
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Dr. Irl Hirsh spoke about "everything but insulin"
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The teens dressed warmly before heading out into the crisp Seattle weather
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Report | Sponsors | Event Announcement
Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

CWD's Seattle 2011: Focus on Technology Conference was Sponsored By:

Animas Corporation JDRF OneTouch Novo Nordisk Roche Insulin Deliver Systems sanofi-aventis

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Last Updated: Wednesday November 30, 2011 15:10:50
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