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Children with Diabetes: Focus on Technology

It was Labor Day weekend, and Hurricane Earl threatened the North Carolina coast. Earl came -- and went -- and Charlotte remained sunny and a bit fall-like in temperature ... absolutely perfect for the CWD Focus on Technology conference, September 3-5, 2010, held at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.

Most families attending the conference were from the North Carolina/Virginia/Maryland area, making this a truly regional event. About 50% of the participants were brand new to CWD conferences, and they were 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, Mary Podjasek, and the Nielsen family for offering such a warm welcome at Registration. And another huge thank you to the conference sponsors: Animas Corporation, Bayer Diabetes Care, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, 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. Additional exhibitors joined our conference for the weekend, including MyConnectCare and TrialNet.

Saturday morning, John Walsh presented the opening keynote, "Emerging Pumps and CGMs and How to Use them." John is a world-renowned expert in the area of type 1 diabetes and insulin pumps and sensor use, and his two sessions (the keynote and Sunday's "Practical Problem-Solving") were packed with information and functional tips on how to use this technology. Many thanks to John for being available throughout the weekend to meet with conference participants to continue discussion of both of these topics.

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, recently graduated from nursing school, achieved her RN, and started her first job as an RN -- and that she hopes to work with children who have type 1.

After a delicious cookout lunch (burgers, brats, and BBQ chicken) complete with portion sizes and carb counts marked on every item on the buffet table, all of the adult participants attended breakout sessions. CDE Joe Largay presented "Introduction to Insulin Pumps" for those families in the first stages of learning about pumps. He then put on his Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association hat (he is the Chair of the Board of Directors) and presented a session about "Sports, Exercise, and BG Control."

Jimmy Dodson, known in the diabetes community for his enjoyment of and success with extreme sports such as ice-climbing, mountaineering, century rides, and marathons, led a discussion focusing on type 1 and everyday sports. He stressed that there is direct application between the types of skills he uses (and the challenges he faces) in extreme sports and those faced by anyone who engages in sports at any level. Same skills and management techniques, different intensity.

Jill Weissberg-Benchell closed Saturday's sessions with a discussion about "Technology Overhwhelmus" -- which translates to many of us as "there is so much technology to choose from that I can't make sense of any of it." Dr. Jill, a frequent speaker at CWD conferences, stressed the importance of the overall shifts in diabetes management and what those changes implied in terms of freedom and choices for people with type 1. Decades ago, very rigid diabetes management regimens were required. Today, the availability of different types of insulin, pumps, injection devices, and continuous sensors offer so much more choice and flexibility in management ... which, yes, can be very overwhelming at times.

Saturday evening -- the CWD Dinner Dance! Kids, parents, and sponsors alike enjoyed a fabulous dinner, and then took to the dance floor. Many thanks to DJ Sam Billetdeaux for spinning the tunes for Saturday night's event, to Harold Sanco for getting everyone moving on the dance floor, and to the teens, tweens, and younger kids for lots of great energy and fun throughout the evening!

Also on Saturday evening, Marissa Hitchcock, Natalie Bellini, and Galen Horton led an excellent discussion for parents of teenagers. The room was packed, and it was a very candid and sometimes emotional conversation ... very much appreciated by the parents who participated.

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! Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell opened with the Sunday keynote presentation, "Managing Transitional Times in Life." She stressed that throughout every stage of life from toddlerhood through adulthood, there are challenges and transitions for everyone in the family. Type 1 diabetes adds another component/layer to managing the transitions. Good communication is essential; a good sense of humor is helpful!

After the morning coffee break, Natalie Bellini led a discussion about "Choosing the Right Infusion Set." 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. Natalie later in the afternoon led a discussion about "Sick Day Management" and encouraged the session's participants to share their challenges and experiences with sick days for some on the spot problem-solving.

Other sessions on Sunday included a discussion of "Carb-Counting Using Pump Features" with CWD's Mike Schurig. Mike, who helps run the CWD conferences, knows the ins and outs of all of the carb-counting programs and does a great job at helping parents and kids understand them. Sunday was also discussion group day -- and there were some great opportunities! The moms discussion group, led by Lauren Lanning and Jill Weissberg-Benchell, covered a range of topics and very positive conversation; the moms enjoyed the Fall sunshine outdoors on the deck as they talked. The dads group, led by Jeff Hitchcock and Rich Meredith, focused mostly on discussion about sensors and technology and their individual experiences. Both groups reported that � as always with these discussions - there wasn't nearly enough time for everyone to share their ideas, but it was a good start and it was yet another opportunity to share ideas!

CWD kids always have their own special programming at our conferences ... and Charlotte 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, Carolyn Meredith, Sam Billetdeaux, Kelsey Martin, and Wendy Smits, 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, and meeting Jimmy Dodson and Sebastien Sasseville, two wonderful athletes and role models. Each of the elementary children helped make quilt squares which will be added to CWD's Quilt for Life.

The tween program, led by Justin Abel, Anne Sides, Lynn Smits, Adam Town, and Rhonda Marquess, was equally as fun and adventurous. The tweens had exercise time with Harold, chat time with Dr. Jill, an opportunity to meet the VIP athletes Sebastien and Jimmy, and they also had 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 contributed a quilt square to the CWD Quilt for Life.

The teen program, led by Marissa Hitchcock, Galen Horton, and Bob Marquess, was a great mix of discussion, presentation, and exploration ... leading to a weekend of fun and learning! The teens explored new technology (thank you to Jeff Hitchcock for leading the discussion), and spent time discussing exercise and sports with Sebastien Sasseville and Jimmy Dodson as well as Fitness Instructor Harold Sanco. On Sunday, the teens also spent a �mentoring' afternoon with the elementary group -- making friends, sharing, and then playing outdoors together. These mentoring relationships between the different age groups are so important -- many thanks to the teen and elementary staff for that very fun afternoon.

Last but not least, the "Under 6" group had a weekend of great fun with leaders Mary Babin and Brandy Schmidt. The children joined in some of the Harold Exercise Fun, they built a fort, watched movies, and had some 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 Charlotte Suites Hotel for working so diligently with us on this!

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, Bayer Diabetes Care, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, 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.


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Renewing friendships is part of the CWD teen experience
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After hearing about the CWD Quilt for Life from Jeff, ...
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... the elementary kids set about making panels for each of their groups.
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Bayer's table got a lot of attention!
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Quite a few CWD kids were using the Omnipod system
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The teen girls had a great "Girl Talk" session
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DJ Sam Billetdeaux kept the dance floor hopping all the way until 10pm on Saturday night
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CWD's Charlotte 2010: Focus on Technology Conference was Sponsored By:

Animas Corporation JDRF OneTouch Novo Nordisk Roche Insulin Deliver Systems sanofi-aventis Bayer Healthcare Diabetes Care

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