This week 30 juvenile diabetics will be taking part in a 5 day summer camp in the city. It is the second annual camp that the Belize Diabetes Association is hosting for these youngsters living with type one diabetes. The camp's objective is to educate children living with diabetes on how to avoid the foods and behavior that can worsen their condition. But, more than that, it's about managing the condition in the long term - which is a reality for an increasing number of children.
Anthony Castillo, President - Belie Diabetes Association
"Today we have over 30 children living with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is one of those chronic conditions which at this time has no cure, so as child once you born or acquire the condition - it's a condition that will remain with you for the rest of your life. It's absolutely important for the child living with this condition to learn of this condition and learn to cope with it. As you may know diabetes is one of those conditions that has so may complications and if you are going to live with this condition for the rest of your life then its best for them to know how to treat themselves."
"The camp will inform them and educate them in living with the condition. As a child earlier in your years your mom, dad, parents and relatives will assist you as you test your blood sugar levels and take you insulin. As you may know children living with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent and at some point they may have to do it themselves. At the camp they will learn how to do their testing. They will learn how to give themselves their injections and all the do and don'ts of living with type 1 diabetes."
"Type 1 diabetes at this time is still unknown how the children acquire the condition. Typically the child is born with the condition, the pancreas is not producing insulin or producing very little insulin which your body is unable to use, so in that case the insulin must be injected into the person living with the condition."
"As a child as I said because the pancreas is not functioning and is not producing any insulin then the need to be given an injection daily for their sustenance. Also working with us is the Belize Diabetes Association of New York who has been working closely with us for the past 2-3 years. Last year they brought in two podiatrists who assisted us in foot care. This year they brought in 3 other persons to work with us; physiotherapists and nutritionist who will assist the children on how to plan their meals and to do their exercise."
"As you may again know that 3 things that we preach are food, medication and exercise. You must be able to diet properly, eat the correct foods, take your medication on time and also to have exercise."
Ernestine Augustus, educator
"Well basically I want them to understand - we are going to be looking at healthy foods and I am nolt a nutritionist but I do implement nutrition as part of my curriculum in New York, I am teacher in New York City. I find that when we make the kids alert because on the onset of talking about this juvenile camp I told them that the best way to get around this is to get to the teachers because I believe that we play a very pivotal role in kids' lives. In terms they listen to us most of the times and you find that they will correct you when you are giving them the fact they will correct you because my kids in the states they will tell me 'Miss Augustus, you are drinking a coke' and so its keeps you in check which means that they are keeping themselves check also."
Tia Hall, volunteer
"I am a physical therapist - we both are and we are going to be doing exercise with the kids here at the juvenile diabetes camp. We want to help empower the kids - give them tools and information and things to look for with their diabetes before they begin exercising; symptoms of low blood sugar, hyperglycemia, symptoms of high blood sugar and how exercise can help them monitor their blood glucose levels and so exercise can help lower their blood sugar levels."
Ariel Soucie, volunteer
"We are going to be practicing a lot of different exercises with them, but the big thing is that you want to get a balance, so you want to do stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercise and doing a mix of all of them can all help to lower blood sugar, buts its really good round out and gain muscle which also burns calories and blood sugar and getting the heart going with cardiovascular exercises which also burns calories and helps build muscle."
So far they are no known statics on the number of juvenile diabetics in the country but Belize has joined St Lucia and Jamaica in a project called - the management of diabetes in youth- which should provide data on juvenile diabetes in the country. The camp runs all week at the ITVET building in Belize City.