Back to the 2009 conference report 2009 Friends for Life Report - Friday

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Friday was a sleep-in morning… instead of a run around the lake at 7:15 a.m! A yummy, healthy breakfast buffet was on hand in the Coronado Ballroom for all conference participants, and sessions started promptly at 8:45.

There were 8-9 concurrent sessions at any given moment of Friday's educational track. Again, these followed the themes of Science/Research, Newly-Diagnosed, Psycho-Social, Young Adults, Exercise, and Grandparents.

The Science and Research sessions included an NIH Research Update by Dr. David Harlan. Arleen Pinkos from the FDA presented a session called "From Prototype to Product," which explained to participants how an idea ultimately becomes a device used by people. Norma Kenyon's "Mouse Cured! What Does That Mean To Me" explored how research on laboratory animals is meaningful in the process towards a cure for type 1 diabetes. And Stuart Weinzimer and Edward Damiano repeated their session about the Artificial Pancreas for those unable to attend on Thursday.

Dr. Bruce Buckingham addressed the fears of many parents in his session "Nocturnal Hypoglycemia: Is It Safe To Go To Sleep?" (the answer is yes, and be vigilant). Crystal Jackson's two school sessions – one about "Managing Type 1 Diabetes in School" and the other about "Problem-Solving Type 1 Diabetes in School," were both very crowded sessions. Crystal indicated that while it was disheartening about the numbers of families having trouble with diabetes management in the school system, it was encouraging that these same families are stepping forward to learn and do something positive to address the challenges.

Several sessions addressed family dynamics. Richard Rubin presented his always-popular "Overcoming Diabetes Overwhelmus" – 'always popular' because one never knows or can predict when the day to day management of type 1 diabetes will suddenly become 'overwhelmus.' Many in the audience had heard this presentation before – yet still walked out with fresh perspective and new ideas. Barbara Anderson further addressed positive family dynamics in "Family Teamwork in Diabetes Management," and this track ended very positively with Nicole Johnson's optimistic presentation "How to Live Well and Make the Most Out of Your Diabetes Experience." Others who added excellent sessions to this track included Dr. Bill Polonsky and "The Great Meter Makeover" and Dr. Bob Bulgarelli focusing on stress management.

There were numerous discussion groups on Friday. Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, and Barbara Anderson led the Moms' Discussion Group. They were followed by Tom Karlya, Stefan Rubin, and Henry Anhalt in the Dads Discussion Group. Dr. Mike Heile led a young men's discussion group, which was followed by Nicole Johnson, Jen Block, and Fran Kaufman leading the young women's discussion group. Parents and grandparents also had time together in a session called "Communication Skills to Enhance Family Support" led by Betty Brackenridge and Richard Rubin. This session received a lot of positive feedback from both Grands and parents, and we will continue to offer more of this type of discussion and interaction in future conferences!

From the exercise perspective, it was a great day for both presentations and discussion! The Athletes Panel presented individual perspectives on exercise and diabetes, and then all of the athletes were on hand to answer questions from the audience participants. This session was followed by Doug Burns' "Traces of Victory" and Jay Hewitt's "Racing the Ironman with Type 1 Diabetes." Both Doug and Jay are regular participants at CWD conferences, and kids and parents really enjoy interacting with them and asking questions about workouts, exercise, and elite sports. The sports and exercise track wrapped up with an hour of questions and answers with all of the conference athletes.

Eli Lilly and Company sponsored a wonderful BBQ lunch on Friday. It was delicious and unhurried, and the 90 minute meal was a great way to relax and have more conversation with new-found friends. Lunch also featured a roving juggler who entertained the kids while parents visited and chatted.

The Exhibit Hall opened early on Friday and was busy with both parents and children until the 3:30 closing time. Many thanks to Unomedical for sponsoring the beverages and low station in the Exhibit Hall during the entire conference.

The teens headed off on buses to Disney's Hollywood Studios for a day in the park. While on the surface, this excursion may look like a Play Day, in reality there are many learning objectives in place for this outing. A lot of planning and responsibility goes into spending a full day in a hot park with lots of activity and other things to keep track of, and the teen staff encouraged the teens to be as independent as possible in managing the day. Teens checked in periodically for a bg check and a 'once over' (for those without diabetes), and the day went very smoothly! Many thanks to the chaperones for the day: Neal Billetdeaux, Chris Tull, Jim Vail, Scott Nagel, Anna and Mark Troisi, Ben Loebner, Bob Schmidt, Jeff Schmidt, Galen Horton, Bob Marquess, Marissa Hitchcock, Carolyn Billetdeaux, Janel Johnson, Paul Madden, Ken Rodenheiser, and of course huge thanks to Natalie Bellini, who coordinated and watched over the day.

The Tween Group had a very fun and interesting Friday, beginning with some serious discussion for those with type 1 and discussion for siblings. This was followed by an hour in Sports Central to use up some energy! After lunch, the tween group went on a Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall… many thanks to the exhibitors who submitted questions for the children to ask, and to Mike Schurig for coordinating all of those questions! The Scavenger Hunt is a group activity designed to teach the younger kids that it is ok to ask questions of the people who make the products our families use every day. We provide the structure (groups, supervision, the actual questions), and the kids have a great time doing the activity. The tween program finished up Friday afternoon with DJ Miles – dancing, games, and a very rowdy and fun time.

The elementary group began their day with the Elementary Scavenger Hunt in the Exhibit Hall. Led by the Elementary Wizards (group leaders in wizard hats), the children searched the exhibit hall in small groups for answers to very specific questions about products and companies in the exhibit area. This session was followed with some quieter conversation with USA Triathlete Jay Hewitt and also with PJ the Dog and her owner Ashley Foster and veterinarian Chuck Wiedmeyer. After the BBQ lunch, the kids had fun time with DJ Miles, and finished out the day with a CWD Memories arts-and-crafts project to take home.

Friday night, was a big social evening, and a huge thank you right up front to the many parents who assisted by chaperoning the various events. Your help in keeping the activities safe and fun was invaluable!

The teens held a very special Teen Dinner Dance – Italian Style, in the Fiesta 5 ballroom. Most teens dressed up, and they were an absolutely beautiful group. Next door in the Fiesta 6 ballroom, the Tween group had their own Friday evening social – with karaoke and Wii! DJ Miles made the evening fun and interactive, and the evening's sponsors – LifeScan – had some extra special glowy, sparkly, blinky treats for the tweens! What a special evening. Many thanks to Kim Kelly and Melissa Ringley for arranging all the goodies for the kids.

Down the hall in the Monterrey, the young adults had dinner together, followed by Salsa dancing instruction! Though a small group, the young adults had a really fun time and they looked great on the dance floor!

Dessert and Posters with the Faculty was back for a 2nd year! CWD President Jeff Hitchcock invited the conference faculty to bring a poster representing their latest work or research – and this proved to be very popular with CWD parents. These were scientific and high level, and this was a great opportunity for those conference participants who enjoy this type of exchange to meet the presenters and ask the detailed questions.

Many thanks to today's sponsors, faculty, staff, and volunteers, who enabled this extraordinary day to happen!


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After an early morning bus ride, teens enjoyed a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios
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Dr. David Harlan from the NIH/NIDDK presented the NIH Research Update
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Pam Loebner made a special quilt panel for the elementary group and got everyone's hand print -- including PJ's
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In the magical world of Friends for Life, all the food has carb counts to make it easy for parents and kids to bolus
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The Tween Social buzzed with bright lights and fun
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Friday's Teen Dinner Dance is one of the conference's best events
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Dr. Alberto Pugliese from the Diabetes Research Institute shared a research poster with parents at Dessert With The Faculty
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