Angie Middlehurst, Education Manager/Diabetes Educator of the IDF Life for a Child (LFAC) Programme, travelled to Fiji on a June weekend to help at the kids and teens diabetes camp conducted yearly by the Head of Paediatrics, Dr Rigamoto Taito and local health professionals from Lautoka, Suva and Labasa Hospitals. LFAC has assisted children and young people in Fiji since 2000 but this was the first time the programme had sent an educator to a camp.
Here's Angie's account of her experience:
15 children and teenagers aged 7-17 came to camp from the three main diabetes centres in Fiji, Lautoka , Suva and Labasa. For the three children from Labasa, it was their first time on a plane so they were very excited! The youngest children were a boy of 7 and a girl of 9. The rest were teenagers, most attending camp for the first time and accompanied by a parent or guardian – all female.
The camp was held at the Crow’s Nest Hotel on the Coral Coast, about a one and a half hour bumpy bus trip from Nadi on the main island.
A local young man of 23, with type 1 diabetes, spoke to the families about living with diabetes since age 13 – initially he hated having diabetes but now realises the importance of managing it and, after studying at university, has a job with a bank where he is well supported. He filled the parents and young people with hope and inspiration for the future.
I joined local health professionals to give education sessions on injection techniques, Body Link, talking about feelings and nutrition. The young people rotated through the groups separately to their parents and guardians which encouraged open discussion – a few secrets were discovered regarding diabetes management and duly discussed within the group. One girl, age 15 and diagnosed for 5 years, gave herself her first injection at the camp!
In between education sessions the children had great fun doing activities and generally getting to know each other.
On the final evening a talent quest was held with everyone joining in with great enthusiasm – even the staff performed a dance routine! Shamal was the main prizewinner on the night and rocked with his fantastic Bollywood dancing! Other prizes were awarded for helpful camper and best dressed camper.
A great time was had with everyone voting to have the camp every year!