The Sports and Diabetes Erasmus+ project aims to foster participation of children and youths with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) by informing, educating and addressing the concerns and challenges of children and youths living with T1D themselves as well as their parents, teachers and sports coaches. One key output is a comprehensive handbook for older youths, their parents, teachers and coaches, and a comic book for younger children, as well as in-depth content available on the Sports and Diabetes website. IDF Europe is a partner alongside five sports clubs, TSV Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), HAŠK Mladost (Croatia), Lazio Volley (Italy), Olympiacos S.F.P. (Greece), WSC – Wiener Sport Club (Austria).
One of the last activities of the project was a children’s camp, held in Split, Croatia at the end of November 2022. IDF Europe invited six young advocates living with T1D, members of its YOURAH youth programme, to attend the camp as part of a Youth Mentor Team, who set out to provide valuable experience for the children and coaches attending the camp.
Several activities and camps had been organised earlier in the year by the project partner to test and get feedback on the handbook. The purpose of the Split camp was to do a final test to validate the handbook’s usefulness and fine-tune its content. Some 33 children and seven coaches participated in daily activities structured around three themes – aerobic, anaerobic and mixed exercises. The days consisted of a mix of physical activity and educational sessions on, for example, how to prepare ahead of physical activity and be safe with regard to blood glucose levels, while being able to focus on the physical activity itself. The Youth Mentor Team played a very important role, bringing in their own, distinct experiences of managing glycemic control around sports.
We want to thank the young advocates who were part of the Youth Mentor team: Antonia Precali (Croatia), Diana Estrela (Portugal), Jelisaveta Fotic (Serbia), Lucija Mušćet (Croatia), Mariana Manita (Portugal) and Matthew Thomas Carbonaro (Malta). After the camp, some of them shared their thoughts and comments on what the camp meant for them during these five days.
“For us, this camp did not only help in providing education. It was also about addressing the entrenched stigma that people living with T1D should never be allowed to participate or practice professional and recreational sports. And this camp proved just the opposite! Having children and young people with T1D with many different daily routines and experiences of sport and physical activity in one place, following the same daily regimen of physical activity and applying the education and knowledge they gained during the camp to adapt to the new routines and come out of it with positive glycemic control was just incredible.”
“I am 30 years old and have been living with T1D for 22 years. Ever since, I have been old enough to be a volunteer, I have been volunteering in camps for children with diabetes. Sports is a big part of my life as a certified trainer and it made me really happy to be part of this project and ensure children felt good about participating” – Matthew Thomas Carbonaro
“Participating in the Sports and Diabetes camp during five days; being with 33 children from four countries and seeing them test the project handbook and learning together about diabetes and sport was a truly fulfilling experience. As a youth mentor and youth advocate, being their mentor, encouraging them and seeing them learn and ask questions is a rewarding experience and an unforgettable memory. At the end, this was a real trade-off of knowledge! Seeing all the different ways that children tackle diabetes with sport is an enriching experience and a useful opportunity to expand our knowledge and understand different ways and realities between countries. It was a pleasure being involved in the Sports & Diabetes project, proving that young people with diabetes are capable of doing any sport and reach professional levels and goals that every other person living without diabetes can achieve.” – Mariana Manita
The project and handbook were then showcased during a highly successful panel discussion at the IDF Global Congress in Lisbon on December 6, 2022. The session consisted of an overview of the project, followed by a presentation of the results of a survey that informed some of the content of the publications and ended with an open panel discussion.
The handbook and comic book developed for the project will initially be translated into four different languages (plus English) and will be available on the Sports and Diabetes website, https://sportsanddiabetes.eu/