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It felt like a mini-FFL (Friends for Life) conference. Kids, parents, grandparents, adults with type 1 – 330 people all gathered together at the Philadelphia West Conshohocken Marriott to learn about the best in type 1 diabetes technology and management, the weekend of February 25-26, 2012.

Although primarily a ‘regional’ conference, the event was sold out and the meeting rooms and kids rooms were packed. There was a very positive and anticipatory buzz as the conference kicked off with registration, a yummy and healthy buffet breakfast, and the opening keynote “CGMS and New Technology” presented by Dr. Henry Anhalt. Many thanks to our wonderful presenters throughout the weekend, including Natalie Bellini, Jeff Hitchcock, Marissa Hitchcock, Korey Hood, Crystal Jackson, Tom Karlya, Rick Philbin, and Gary Scheiner. These faculty have a very special talent for making the most challenging concepts understandable for all of us, and they are very approachable for follow-up conversations and questions throughout the day.

Kudos to Harold Sanco for – yet again – getting everyone up and moving and having fun with exercise in the youth program and the Batuka! session. Human Caffeine, indeed (that is Harold's nickname). Harold brings his special kind of energy to every single CWD conference.

Thank you to Julia Mattingly, Brendan Long, and Kathryn Hitchcock for offering such a warm welcome at Registration. And another huge thank you to the conference sponsors: Animas, JDRF, OneTouch®, Novo Nordisk, Roche Insulin Delivery Systems, and Sanofi-Aventis. CWD sponsors are partners in every sense of the word -- they help bring the best information to CWD events, and they spend the entire conference with us, available for questions and discussions with adults and children alike.

CWD kids always have their own special programming at our conferences ... and Philadelphia 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 a very fun Saturday in childcare as well.

Under the leadership and guidance of leaders Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Sunshine Abel, Sarah Melendez, Zak Elarbi, Maryam Elarbi, Ralph Della Sala, Kristen Della Sala, Helen Rodio, and Jesse Nagel, the elementary kids had a fabulous time with activities such as a Scavenger Hunt, Fitness Time with Harold, swimming in the really cool hotel pool, and spending time with some of their very favorite role models!

The tween program, led by Adam Town, Carolyn Billetdeaux, Mike Welsh, and Ken Rodenheiser , was equally as fun and adventurous. The tweens had exercise time with Harold, Type 1 and Sibs chat time with Korey and Carolyn, and a very interesting JDRF research update. The tween group also had a fun and creative 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, and Natalie Bellini was a great mix of discussion and presentation ... leading to a weekend of fun and learning! The teens explored new technology with Jeff Hitchcock and Jim Vail, and spent conversation time – Boy Talk and Girl Talk – with Natalie, Marissa, Jim, and Dr. Anhalt.

Last but not least, the "Under 6" group had a weekend of great fun and activity with leaders Mary Babin, Adriana Rodenheiser, and Intissar Ben Halim. 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 Intissar Ben Halim, Stacey Nagel, Ken Rodenheiser and Bob Bulgarelli for watching over the buffets during meal and break times! Additional thanks to Lauren Lanning and Jeff Hitchcock 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, 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.

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  Children with Diabetes: Focus on Technology

CWD kids use the latest diabetes care technology
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They also make fast friends that last a lifetime
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