The Berrie Center Summer Fun Program might have been held on Zoom this year, but it was every bit as energizing and uplifting as in years past for the 27 children with diabetes who were in virtual attendance. Perhaps it was even more meaningful than ever before, thanks to the creativity and dedication of the Berrie Center team. The dynamic duo of artist therapist Cara Lampron and pediatric coordinator Kindra Matthews devised a week that captured the essence of what camp is all about –connecting with peers, having fun, and in our world, a little diabetes education on the side.
Every detail of the virtual week was carefully thought out. Attendees, who were between the ages of 8-12, received a care package full of supplies and games in the mail prior to the start of camp. Teen volunteers with type 1 diabetes (T1D) also signed on every day and helped lead games for the group.
“It went better than we could have ever expected,” said Cara. “The kids were incredible. What I think it really shows is that people who have been through things that are hard are better equipped to deal with life’s rocky roads. That really showed this year in the way these kids were able to go with the flow and have fun together despite everything going on in the world at this moment.”
Every day of Virtual Summer Fun had its own theme—get to know your peers, get to know your diabetes, get to know yourself and get to know your community. Highlights of the week included: an online improv show, cooking with Dr. Ileana Vargas, paint and sip, pilates with Tori Bender, Ask the Doc with Dr. Natasha Leibel, and the highly anticipated third annual (first virtual) talent show.
With Dr. Vargas, the group talked about reading nutrition labels, food order, marketing and counter marketing. Dr. Vargas led a virtual demonstration in which she made ice cream with fresh fruit. Then, from their own kitchens, all together they made smoothies that could be frozen to make popsicles. (Recipe available below.) Said Dr. Vargas, “That was my first virtual cooking class and, wow, what a wonderful experience. The children were so excited and ready to cook. They were so sophisticated with their questions.”
This year’s talent show was a smashing success. As in years past, parents were invited to listen in as well. There was singing, a cello performance, a 3D home design tour by Nasir, and Bria delivered a beautiful poetry reading. Dominic impressed everyone with his rap skills, Olivia and her dog did the macarena, Alejandro strummed his guitar and we also heard some hysterical comedy.
“What animal should you never play cards with?” asked Sean. “A Cheetah.”
This was certainly a week to remember.
“Despite the challenges, these kids were excited to be together and we all learned so much from each other. Hopefully we will be back together next year,” said Kindra, “in person.”
The Berrie Center Summer Fun Program is made possible through the financial support of our community. Please consider making a donation.