It was a rainy, windy, and chilly Friday evening in November – but to the 250 participants gathered at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, this was the beginning of three days full of warmth and new friendships. CWD Focus on Technology.
Despite the pre-Thanksgiving dates and the very soggy and threatening weather, families came from across the Pacific Northwest – and a few from as far away as the east coast – to learn and share. More than half 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 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 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, Brenda Hitchcock, and Scott and Heather Kyllo for offering such a warm welcome at Registration. And another huge thank you to the conference sponsors: Abbott Diabetes Care, Animas Corporation, Insulet Corporation, LifeScan, Novo Nordisk, Roche Diagnostics, 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, Dr. Irl Hirsch from the University of Washington School of Medicine presented the conference keynote, "Diabetes Technology: Now and the Future." Dr. Hirsch traced the history of diabetes management, from the early days of the discovery and use of insulin through the very promising smart insulins and new technologies currently addressed in the most promising research. He also discussed the challenges which a new health care system will face: people with type 1 are now living very long healthy lives, which is a much different scenario than in past generations.
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; 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 and achieved her RN – and that she hopes to work with children who have type 1.
Gary Scheiner next presented two sessions, "Sports, Exercise, and BG Control" and "Using Advanced Pump Features." Gary, who is a CDE, athlete, and person with type 1 diabetes, is known at CWD for his very understandable and applicable presentations. These two sessions were no exception, and Gary had a queue of parents with follow-up questions much of the afternoon and into the evening's dinner. Gary 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).
Joe Solowiejczyk concluded the Saturday afternoon program with "It's Not Just a Numbers Game." Joe is a family therapist who has had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years. He brings perspective, humor, and no small dose of gravity to the concept that managing type 1 diabetes is so much more than looking at numbers. The message that rang so true with his audience: You can hate diabetes - and it's fine to say that you hate it – but you have to take care of it. There is no way around checking blood sugars and taking insulin. Those things are not negotiable.
Saturday evening was a special occasion – a wonderful dinner and a surprise 50th birthday presentation in honor of Jeff Hitchcock. Jeff's wife, Brenda, had secretly worked on a surprise slide show honoring Jeff's 50 years and his work with CWD, and it was a big hit - and a giant surprise to Jeff. Many thanks to the Kyllo family for help with the surprise. When in doubt about computer technology – ask a teenager (thank you, Chad)!
Also on Saturday evening, Teen Program Coordinators Natalie Bellini and Jim Vail led a discussion group for parents of teens with type 1 diabetes. This was a time for parents to share their challenges and ideas – and many thanks to Natalie and Jim for extending their expertise 'after hours' for this discussion group.
Sunday morning began with "Focus on the Future: Balancing Between Here and There" – a perspective presented by Joe Solowiejczyk. Joe shared his thoughts as a person who has lived with type 1 for over 40 years and who remembers his mom sharpening hypodermic needles for his insulin with a whetstone. While optimistic about current and future tools and technology, Joe was emphatic that these tools are only as successful as the person using them, i.e., a person needs to be 100% committed to his own good care in order for the tools to work optimally.
Later in the morning, Gary Scheiner discussed "Making Sense of Sensor Data" with half of the conference participants, while Natalie Bellini led an interactive discussion about "Infusion Sets and Sensors" with the other half. Natalie stressed to parents that there are many excellent choices for pumps and infusion sets – and the 'right one' is the one that fits you the best in terms of functionality, comfort, and the details that are important to your or your child's lifestyle.
Following lunch break, CDE Heather Speer led a discussion about "Sick Day Management" which included lots of question and answer problem-solving scenarios. Mike Schurig, CWD's dietitian and conferences manager, presented the most current information about "Carb Counting Using Pump Features." In both sessions, parents had many questions reflecting the day to day challenges of managing a child's type 1 diabetes.
The conference concluded on Sunday afternoon with two discussion groups – one for dads and one for moms. These groups offered parents the opportunity to ask questions, broach new topics, share challenges and success stories, and offer support to some of the newly-diagnosed families. A common theme occurred around "Transitions." Regardless of a person's age – child or adult - transitional times are always challenging. Many thanks to the discussion group facilitators, Michelle Rago and Lauren Lanning (for the moms group) and Scott Kyllo and Joe Solowiejczyk (for the dads group).
What would a CWD conference be without Harold? This would be Harold Sanco, aka Human Caffeine. Harold loves working with CWD kids and adults at our conferences, and he spent time with each age group including the parents and the childcare kids! We had some pretty great workouts and stretches, and we combined these with some really good information from our CWD dietitians and staff about how to fuel our bodies in a healthy way for exercise!
We enjoyed having two elite athletes sharing the weekend's events with us as VIPs. Robby Arroyo, a world class competitor in water polo, spent time with all of the children, courtesy of Animas Corporation. Nathan Bartels from Team Type 1, also met with each of the children's groups, courtesy of Insulet. Many thanks to these wonderful athletes for sharing their stories with the children – they are truly inspirational to all of us.
CWD kids always have their own special programming at our conferences… and Seattle 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 Elementary Coordinators Lauren Lanning and Michelle Rago, the elementary kids had a fabulous time with activities such as a Scavenger Hunt, Harold Time (fun exercise and games), swimming in the really cool hotel pool on the 28th floor of the hotel, and meeting some great athletes and role models. Many thanks to the elementary staff, including Sunshine Abel, Nick Reiersgard, Janet Schneeman, and Georgia Spiropoulos.
The tween program, led by Coordinators Melissa Ringley and Kim Kelly, was equally as fun and adventurous. The tweens had exercise time with Harold, chat time with Joe Solowiejczyk, an opportunity to meet the VIP athletes, and they also had swim time in the very cool pool at the top of the hotel! Additionally, the tweens had their first CWD field trip ever – to the Seattle Aquarium. Many thanks to Justin Abel for coordinating the details of this special afternoon and for being so insistent that a field trip would really be a great thing for this group to do! We will definitely be offering more field trips to the tween group in future conferences! Thank you as well to Jim Stone for staffing the tween program, and to the parents who assisted as chaperones to the Aquarium.
The teen program, led by Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail, Marissa Hitchcock, and Scott Scolnick, 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 and Jim Vail for leading the discussion), and spent time discussing 'What Exactly is the Nutritional Content of Mall Food?' - an enlightening topic indeed. On Sunday, the teens and staff headed off at lunch for a walking tour of downtown Seattle, complete with a trip to Pike St. Market and the first Starbucks.
Last but not least, the "Under 6" group had a weekend of incredible fun with leaders Alanna and Mark Chambers and Alyssa Kyllo. The children had their own mini-Scavenger hunt, joined in some of the Harold Exercise Fun, they built a fort and watched movies, and made All About Me tracings as art projects.
Additional thanks go to Dex4 for sending boxes and boxes of glucose tabs, all of which were distributed to parents by Sunday afternoon! While staff, kids, and parents did, indeed, fight low blood sugar challenges as a result of lots of active play in the pool and out, it was a great experience for all of us to discuss and handle these challenges together. It encouraged a lot of sharing regarding what works with temporary basals, infusion set adhesive, fast glucose, identifying impending lows ... and somehow the challenges just aren't that discouraging when you face them with friends!
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 and snack breaks. He created a wonderful gluten free buffet at each meal and snack time 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!
CWD would not be able to hold conferences at all if not for the continued and consistent generosity of our sponsors. Many thanks to our sponsors including Abbott Diabetes Care, Accu-Chek, Animas, Insulet, LifeScan, Novo Nordisk, and sanofi-aventis. Their generosity 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.
CWD's Focus on Technology Conference in Seattle was Sponsored By:
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