The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center recently welcomed 15 teenagers with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to the annual winter program, a whirlwind of fun and empowering activities that this year included an afternoon at The Ailey School with teaching artists from the Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, where the teens learned dance from some of the best modern dancers in the City; they flew through the air doing acrobatics at a trampoline park; they made (and ate) their own pizza at a fabulous midtown restaurant; they practiced yoga with an instructor who has T1D, and played with Pushkin, the Berrie Center’s adorable pet therapy dog.
“While certainly exciting, these activities are also important tools in showing our young patients how to manage their diabetes in the real world,” said Dr. Natasha Leibel, head of the pediatrics program. “They might not often find themselves in a trampoline park for instance, but they do exercise and it’s important that they learn how to take care of themselves as their daily activities vary.”
The teens also participated in therapeutic activities led by social worker Diana Cory and had the opportunity to talk about their experiences living with T1D. One teenager remarked that “everyone here knows what we have to do, and it’s nice not to have to explain it—it makes me feel comfortable.”
The kids trusted and supported each other as they talked about the different issues they encounter while living with T1D. And, in addition to being there for each other, they were inspired by stories of a successful restaurateur with T1D as well as their yoga teacher Anastasia Brien who spoke openly about living with T1D.
"I am grateful for my diabetes," said one teen. "If I didn't have it, I wouldn't be able to do things like this.