On January 27, 2018, about a dozen enthusiastic teens with type 1 diabetes (T1D) gathered at the Berrie Center for an event called “Berrie Connect for High School Students.” They were given a directive—an art directive—to create a silhouette portrait, exploring their inner and outer selves, with a focus on what it’s like being a teen living with T1D. For their inner selves, the patients explored themes of identity, control and aspects of their personality they hold close. For their outer selves, they explored themes including things they cannot control like their diabetes treatment, life at school and the world around them.
“Developmentally, teens are doing a lot of exploring of identity, so I thought of focusing the project on self-portraits,” said Cara Lampron, the program coordinator for the Therapeutic Arts program at the Berrie Center. “The portraits were all very different, all very reflective of what was going on inside. It turned out to be quite a valuable exercise and experience.”
Berrie Connect events are opportunities for young patients to get together with other kids their age who have T1D and bond over an art project. This year, there will be a monthly Berrie Connect for Middle School Students in addition to a monthly Berrie Connect for High School Students. “For a lot of teens part of the experience was talking and connecting with other members of the group, and getting to know each other. After everyone was done working, they had a chance to share their portraits and at the same time, a little bit about their inner and outer worlds.”
The event was a Berrie Center team production; Cara came up with the project concept and led the group, Pediatric Coordinator Kindra Matthews was the co-leader and Outreach and Communications Coordinator Tori Bender helped spread the word. “This is such a wonderful example of how our team makes the Berrie Center a special place for our patients every day,” said Chief of Staff, Annie Trowbridge.
The next Berrie Connect for High School Students will be on February 22. By special request, there will be a Berrie Connect for Girls ages 9-11 on February 28.