The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center Summer Fun Program was a huge hit for the 40 Berrie Center patients who had the opportunity to stroll through the gardens at the Horticultural Society of New York; zipline over the Bronx River at the Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure; fly through the air at iFly; view a gravity-defying exhibition at the Children’s Museum of the Arts; and pose with their favorite celebrities at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
In its 20th year, the Summer Fun Program is going strong. It is a jam-packed week of activities for pediatric patients that helps kids with type 1 diabetes (T1D) gain confidence, learn important skills, bond with each other and benefit from the constant attention and support of a community of diabetes role models. The group was always in good hands-- our pediatric endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators, art therapist, Berrie Center staff and volunteer counselors in training (most of them teenagers who themselves are Berrie Center patients with T1D) staffed the program each day.
There were highlights galore during the week. The campers loved morning yoga with instructor and fellow T1D Anastasia Brien. They loved bonding as teams (Yellow Mustard, Green Beans, Awesome Amazing Red and Blue Storm) and putting their creativity to the test. Art therapist Cara Lampron challenged each team to design a mascot. Rufus, Blu, Captain Strips, and Sticky the Pen all captured our hearts, although only one would become the official mascot of the Berrie Center Summer Fun 2019 Program. The contenders were on display at the Berrie Center and on our Instagram page. Friends and family were invited to vote for their top choice. Sticky the Pen, a pen who makes people happy when they are afraid of getting insulin shots, came out victorious.
Going on a tour of the laboratories at the Berrie Center is a perennial favorite for the kids. This year, graduate student Michael Zuccaro led the tour and made a lasting impression on the group with his update on stem cell research and his rendition of diabetes-themed Jeopardy.
On the final day, friends and family filled the lobby to see the second annual Berrie Center Summer Fun Talent Show. Jackson, age 8, opened the show with a comedy set.
“Knock, knock,” he joked.
“Who’s there?” asked the crowd.
“Not my pancreas because I have type 1 diabetes!”
After the talent show, everyone enjoyed an ice cream party scientifically created by James Pring, a clinical research coordinator for the NIH GRADE Study at the Berrie Center.
“My son had a great day at the Berrie Center Summer Fun Program,” said Jen Colavito, mom of Dominic, age 10. “These past two years he has resisted getting together with other type 1’s for whatever reason. Yesterday afternoon he told me it was a comfortable feeling to be around other kids who have diabetes too!”
Special thanks go out to the 2019 Summer Fun organizers, Art therapist Cara Lampron, and Pediatric Coordinator, Kindra Matthews, who worked out every detail of each hour of the program in advance to ensure the seamlessness of the week. And much appreciation for our patients and board members who every year make new, exciting venues available to our campers in unique ways.
Said Natasha Leibel, MD, head of the pediatric endocrinology team at the Berrie Center, “Every year gets better and better. It is a week of amazing memories for our patients. The Summer Fun Program incredibly special and inspiring.”
Added Berrie Center Co-Director Robin Goland, MD, the J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes, “You have to see the Summer Fun Program in action to believe it, and even then, it’s hard to believe it. The Berrie Center is truly one of a kind - a special and inspiring place to work.”
The Summer Fun Program is offered to families free of charge and is made possible by gifts from generous friends of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. To support the Summer Program please click here.
Enjoy the Summer Fun Photos!