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Camper holds a drawing labeled Camp Hamwi

Camp supporters help create lasting lessons, memories for children with diabetes

By | Central Ohio Diabetes Association, Featured News

Have you ever been to sleepaway camp? What was it like learning to canoe for the first time or being part of a team?

Kids with diabetes don’t always get to have these types of experiences as a result of the challenges of their illness. Rising or falling blood sugars as well as other diabetes-related complications can keep kids from exploring all that an overnight camp may have to offer. Their disease might even make them stand out among their peers, ultimately resulting in isolation or embarrassment.

The Central Ohio Diabetes Association (CODA) has been operating camps designed specifically for children with diabetes since 1968. More than 7,500 youths have attended CODA’s summer camp, Camp Hamwi (named for Dr. George Hamwi, one of the co-founders of CODA). In fact, 2019 marks the 52nd year of consecutive camp offerings for children with diabetes.

At Camp Hamwi, campers ages 7-17 learn the importance of good diabetes control in their childhood and for a lifetime. In addition to Camp Hamwi, CODA offers Stepping Stones, a transitional day camp with an overnight outing for children ages 8-12, and Kids Camp, a day camp for children ages 3-7. A special program is offered for Counselors-In-Training, ages 17 & 18, with enrollment limited to individuals entering their senior year of high school who are looking for an opportunity to develop their leadership potential.

The 2019 camp season welcomed 10 campers to Kids Camp, 15 to Stepping Stones, and 176 to Camp Hamwi. These campers represented 36 Ohio counties with an additional camper coming from Illinois and two from West Virginia. CODA was founded in 1964, and merged with LifeCare Alliance in 2017. All three camps offer education opportunities for parents and families. Kids Camp and Stepping Stones offer group counseling and support services to parents who are anxious about leaving their children on their own – perhaps for the first time since their child’s diabetes was diagnosed.

These camp experiences would not be possible without the generous support of CODA funders. The Franklin County Community Partnership Grant Program has supported CODA camps since 2013. The Community Partnership Program is a competitive grant process whereby the Franklin County Board of Commissioners support local community-based organizations that serve county residents. As a direct result of this funding, campers learn to develop a personal diabetes management plan. The plan includes:

  1. A healthy meal plan.
  2. Regular physical exercise.
  3. Regular checks of blood glucose levels.
  4. Taking diabetes medications as prescribed.

The camp programming also helps children and parents learn about each element of the plan and to start practicing such positive behaviors as goal setting, self-monitoring, positive reinforcement, and shared responsibility for diabetes management. Eighty-six campers came from Franklin County this summer.

Similarly, the Ingram-White Castle Foundation has been supporting LifeCare Alliance and CODA camps for many years. The Foundation especially supports programs that address a critical human service need. Without this key support, CODA would not be able to provide scholarships for the nearly 200 campers that attend each summer. While the camp programs are designed primarily to promote the health of children with diabetes throughout their lifetime and to prevent the development of diabetes complications, they also teach self-care skills and help the participants develop confidence through appropriate medically supervised recreational activities. Most participants cite making new acquaintances with peers with whom they can share experiences and overcome feelings of isolation, fear, and anger as a valuable tool in helping them better manage their disease. Learning to manage diabetes helps ultimately prepare the campers for success in all aspects of life like school and work, which links to another area of emphasis for the Ingram-White Castle Foundation’s funding program.

Another funder without which CODA camps would not be possible is the New Venture Fund, which assists with CODA’s long-standing goal that no child with diabetes be turned away from having a camp experience because of their family’s economic situation.

For children who develop diabetes at a young age, it is crucial that they learn self-care skills such as blood sugar testing, insulin injections and the importance of adhering to diet and exercise regimens. Camp Hamwi offers diverse recreational programs for any skill level. The camp provides opportunities to develop team spirit and good sportsmanship in individual and group activities. Each camper is encouraged to try new activities and explore their individual interests.  It is important that campers explore “new territory” by focusing more upon their potential than on imagined limitations imposed by diabetes. There are supervised opportunities for horseback riding, archery, volleyball, soccer, basketball, canoeing, swimming, rappelling, campfires, and arts and crafts. This funding is crucial in allowing diabetic kids to achieve their full potential as they learn how to manage their illness.

All of CODA’s camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). This accreditation means that the camp maintains the highest professional standards in instruction, safety, and welfare for all campers. To maintain accreditation, the camp must meet or exceed standards in more than 300 areas. In recent years, the camping program has adapted to meet the needs of both campers and staff members who use insulin pumps. As the devices have increased in popularity and usage, approximately half of the campers and staff benefit from case-specific educational programs.

The Harry C. Moores Foundation, a longtime CODA camp funder, is located in Columbus, Ohio, and supports camps in order to make an impact in child welfare throughout the state. Many campers come from rural counties in Ohio where they might be the only student at their school with diabetes. Meeting other kids that also need to use an insulin pump or give themselves injections can be life-changing for those who are isolated by their condition. One camper, Katie, remarked about this topic, “You don’t have to think about having diabetes; it’s just the norm. You don’t have to apologize for being diabetic because they know what it’s like.” Helping kids ages 3-17 attend camp at little-to-no cost to their families is invaluable.

After camp ends, like it did this year on Aug. 3, staff complete a thorough outcome evaluation with campers and families to determine program and education components for the next year. Continuous quality improvement allows the program to better meet expressed education needs and adapt to requests among the participants. The camp education program has three focus areas: hypoglycemia awareness and treatment, bullying, and carb counting.

The CVS Health Foundation, another camp funder, is a great example of a corporate philanthropy program that helps campers take advantage of the camp curriculum to help better manage their disease. The Diabetes Camp Education Curriculum addresses every aspect of diabetes care including medical and psychosocial concerns.  There are three levels of curriculum: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Daily education sessions are led by the medical staff of physicians, nurses, and dietitians who focus on teaching about the nature of diabetes and methods of managing it. The complexity of issues related to diabetes dictate a relatively high ratio of medical staff to campers (no less than one health professional to eight campers). This ratio is significantly higher than many diabetes camps. The medical coverage at Camp Hamwi ensures that any medical issues that arise will be addressed by qualified medical staff rather than by counselors or non-medical personnel.

A licensed social worker conducts psychosocial programs designed to increase self-esteem and feelings of empowerment. These learning opportunities promote attitudes of independence and self-reliance crucial to the tight control of diabetes that leads to the reduction of death and disability due to diabetes or its complications.  These programs reinforce the work of the medical staff by enhancing commitment to systematic self-care and the level of glycemic control that leads to a full and healthy (near normal) lifestyle.

Thank you so much to all of our funders for making CODA camps so successful in 2019!

Camp Hamwi campers thanking longtime CODA funder, the Harry C. Moores Foundation.

CODA Director Cathy Paessun, left, and Dayna McCrary, community partnerships coordinator for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, pose during the 2019 Red Carpet Day at Camp Hamwi after a tour of the grounds specifically designed for grantors and funders.

ADAMH Mini-Grant Program Supports Carrie’s Cafe

By | Carrie's Cafe, Featured News
LifeCare Alliance is excited to announce a $1,500 mini-grant from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County. This grant supports “Live Well with Carrie’s,” an initiative that provides Carrie’s Cafe, our signature dining center, with special events and enriching programming.

Special events are a key component of LifeCare Alliance’s congregate dining center program, which serves older adults and individuals living with a medical challenge and/or disability at 43 locations across central Ohio. Meal sites address clients’ nutritional, health-related, mental, and psychological needs holistically. They provide a nutritious meal, socialization, enriching programming, health services, and educational opportunities under one roof. Culturally diverse offerings are available at 11 Asian and Somali restaurants.

LifeCare Alliance is the largest provider of senior meals through community dining centers in both central Ohio and the state, according to the Ohio Department of Aging. Dining centers promote successful aging among central Ohioans, which is defined as the avoidance of disease and disability, maintenance of high cognitive and physical functioning, and engagement with life. In 2018, the congregate dining program served 140,436 meals to 4,496 clients. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of senior dining center clients are age 65 or older, 90% have an annual income of less than $20,000, 64% are female, and 55% are minority. Read More

Nominate a Volunteer for the LifeCare Alliance Spirit Awards!

By | Carrie's Cafe, Central Ohio Diabetes Association, Columbus Cancer Clinic, Events, Featured News, Help-at-Home, Meals-on-Wheels, POHC, Volunteers, Wellness
Thank you for nominating an outstanding volunteer for the Spirit Awards! Volunteers are essential to the success of LifeCare Alliance in our community, so it is important to recognize the wonderful work they do.
Please use the form below to submit your nomination. We want to know the LifeCare Alliance program that benefits from your nominee’s work, as well as the reasons your nominee stands out from all the rest.
Please visit LifeCare Alliance’s website and social media for information about volunteer recognition events as details are finalized. If you are interested in attending, please be sure to indicate so on the form below. Thank you!
Home repair Client

LifeCare Alliance, partners help secure Army widow’s home

By | Featured News, Home Repairs

LifeCare Alliance, in partnership with Meals on Wheels America and The Home Depot Foundation, helped provide basic but vital safety improvements at an Army widow’s home.

When 75-year-old Isabelle contacted LifeCare Alliance for home repairs, she was grateful to learn of the help she could receive through the Helping Hometown Heroes program. Most of the repairs to Isabelle’s home were to keep her safe and secure in her own home.  The improvements included the installation of motion-activated outdoor lighting, a small wheelchair ramp, a new security door, a window with locking device, and drywall in her bedroom.

“I really appreciate the motion lamp. When I come home at night, the light turns on,” Isabelle said, adding that she feels safer with the new wheelchair ramp and a window that locks. “You guys have helped me tremendously, and I appreciate it,” she said.

Isabelle said the improvements have allowed her to stay safe and independent in her home, where she wants to be. The repairs, unfortunately, had been more than she could afford.

Her husband, served in the Army during the 1960s and ’70s.

The Helping Hometown Heroes program helps veterans and spouses improve their homes to address mobility challenges and avoid unnecessary injuries, hospitalization and homelessness. The Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $200 million in veteran-related projects since 2011.

“I would like to thank the Home Depot Foundation and LifeCare Alliance for all they do for our veterans,” Isabelle said.

Man cooling down in the water

What You Should Know About Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

By | Featured News, Wellness

LifeCare Alliance has a team of registered nurses and registered dietitians on staff, providing wellness services to the central Ohio community. 

During the summer, seniors are among the most vulnerable populations when it comes to heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Our Columbus Foundation fellow, Radhika Pandit, explains the two conditions and how LifeCare Alliance can be of service.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Radhika PanditThere are two main types of heat-related illnesses:

  • Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats and becomes dehydrated. Symptoms include profuse sweating, dizziness, and nausea.
  • Heat stroke results from untreated heat exhaustion that has reached a critical stage. Symptoms become more severe and one may stop sweating completely due to extreme dehydration.

If you suspect someone is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

Who is at a Higher Risk for Heat-Related Illnesses?

Older adults are at higher risk because they commonly take medications or have medical conditions that affect their body’s ability to regulate heat.

“Seniors need to be more mindful of their environment and take more preventative measures,” said LifeCare Alliance nurse Peggy Parisot, MSN, RN.

How Can I Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses?

In order to prevent heat-related illnesses, follow these tips from Nurse Peggy!

  • Avoid exposure to outdoor heat during the hottest periods of the day, generally 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Stay well-hydrated on hot days.
  • Wear light, layered clothing.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol because it causes rapid dehydration.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen in the sun.
  • Look out for others and notice if they’re expressing symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Beat the Heat Fan Campaign

Living in a house without air conditioning can leave you vulnerable to heat exhaustion or heat stroke during the hot summer months.

If you are in need of a fan to cool down your house, join us during a fan distribution day. Fans are distributed at LifeCare Alliance’s Harmon Avenue facility (670 Harmon Ave). Call the Fan Hotline at 614-437-2870 for information on the next distribution event!

Learn more

Click here to visit the Wellness Department page and get information on available services and wellness center locations.

Diabetes testing tools

Understanding the Basics of Diabetes

By | Central Ohio Diabetes Association, Featured News

LifeCare Alliance offers diabetes management education through its wellness program and the Central Ohio Diabetes Association. We can assist with blood sugar testing, corporate events, meal planning, and much more.

When it comes to understanding diabetes, there are some basics that should be covered. Our Columbus Foundation fellow, Radhika Pandit, explains what diabetes is and some ways patients can live their best life with it.

What is Diabetes?

Radhika PanditDiabetes is a chronic disease that affects the insulin produced by your pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that is extremely important in maintaining proper blood glucose (sugar) levels. Insulin is released into the bloodstream following a meal to stimulate the uptake of the glucose in your meal into the cells to be utilized for energy. If this hormone is not working properly, glucose is trapped in the bloodstream, blood sugar levels spike, and cells are deprived of energy.

What is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2?

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks and destroys its own insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Patients require insulin therapy.
  • Type 2 diabetes results when the body starts to become resistant to the effects of insulin. Type 2 tends to present later in life, although it is becoming increasingly common for children to present with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 in children can be influenced by family history, genetics, eating habits, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.

Diabetes can lead to a range of complications if not properly managed. These include peripheral nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), eye disease (glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy), and kidney failure.

How Can I Manage Type 2 Diabetes?

In order to manage your type 2 diabetes, make sure to follow these 5 tips!

  • Transition to a more plant-based diet: Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals and limit processed foods and sugary drinks
  • Exercise regularly: At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week
  • Take your diabetes medication as directed by your physician
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly
  • Schedule regular doctor’s visits

Learn more

Click here to visit the Central Ohio Diabetes Association page and get information on diabetes, available services, and upcoming events.