Back to the 2013 conference report 2013 Friends for Life Report - Wednesday

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Wednesday was a very full day at Friends for Life 2013.

We welcomed back focus groups, after taking a break last year (Wednesday was July 4 last year and many families enjoyed the holiday off site) – with lots of great feedback; our participants love their focus groups! We moved some of the youth and adult programming into Wednesday because, push came to shove, there just wasn’t enough time or space to get everything done on Thursday and Friday. So, for the first time, the teen program started on Wednesday afternoon. As well, some of the discussion groups, including the Moms Group, Dads Group, and Parents of Teens Groups were on Wednesday. Jessica Apple offered a Writers Workshop in the afternoon, while Neil Benchell offered a session about Intellectual Property for Bloggers, Researchers, and Inventors. For the first time, we offered a Bloggers Hangout on Wednesday afternoon. This was a room where the DOC could hang out, blog, share conversation and coffee, and connect in person before the official opening of Friends for Life.

In addition to the many focus groups, Friends for Life 2013 featured an important discussion: Social Media & the Monster Under the Bed: the Latest Thinking on Fearing vs. Embracing Social Media, organized by Partnering for Diabetes Change (P4DC). This discussion featured four Friends for Life faculty members -- Korey Hood, Phd, Jill Weissberg-Benchell, PhD, CDE, Barbara Anderson, PhD, and Jeremy Pettus, MD, along with panelists from P4DC including Kelly Close and Adam Brown from Close Concerns; Kerri Sparling who blogs at Six Until Me, Bennet Dunlap who writes at Your Diabetes May Vary, and Manny Hernandez, founder of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, which has an excellent review of the event. You can also watch the recording of the session on YouTube.

Lee Ann Thill held a Drop-In Diabetes Art workshop from 10-4, and many wonderful pieces were created by adults and children alike. Thanks to the many teen and adult volunteers who helped out in the art room!

The Grandparents and Caregivers Drop-In and Boot Camp were held in the morning and afternoon, offering participants the opportunity to meet other grandparents and caregivers and get some basics under their belts before sessions began on Thursday. The Grands program is very hands-on, and we had lots of staff on site helping this year! Many thanks to Heather Speer, Bruce and Rachele Baccaro, Jen Block, Henry Rodriguez, Julie Baccaro, Diana Naranjo, and Joe Solowiejczyk for facilitating the sessions and sharing their expertise.

While Dr. Ben and his team completed their third day of retinal screenings on Wednesday, the TrialNet and Celiac screening teams began their first day of screening FFL participants. for the first time, Dr. Alessio Fasano and his team from the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children (MGHfC) in Boston. Dr. Fasano's team screened over 350 people this year and will be back in 2014.

The afternoon also featured the First Timers Welcome Reception. Over 800 First Timers joined us at Friends for Life this year – and the Reception was their first formal opportunity to learn about CWD, meet some of the staff, and most importantly – meet each other! Tom Karlya, Jeff Hitchcock, Jill Weissberg-Benchell, Nabil Elarbi, and Laura Billetdeaux welcomed the group, and CWD Dad David Jarcho spoke emotionally to everyone about his family’s experience when they were First Timers at FFL 2011.

Wednesday evening featured the Grand Opening Ceremony and the Grand Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall. At 6:30 sharp, the red ribbon across the entrance to the exhibit hall was cut, and several thousand people poured into the Exhibit Hall! Many thanks to OneTouch for sponsoring this amazing, high energy evening, which included dinner, some great give-aways, and interaction with the coolest exhibitors and sponsors ever.

Finally, Wednesday evening closed with a dinner for the young adult participants (ages 18-22) in the Durango Ballroom. Because so many of the college agers are staff and full time volunteers at Friends for Life, we like to give them the opportunity to share an evening together, have a meal, and get to know each other before the hard work of Thursday and Friday begins. They had a great time, welcomed some new young adults into their group, and ended the day on a great note.


Kelly Close opened the P4DC session about social media
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For many CWD kids, it's mom or dad who wear the green bracelet
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A young man with a green bracelet also sports a bandaid -- having participated in celiac screening
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Teens began their programming on Wednesday this year
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