Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE
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Last week two young entrepreneurs showed me a fascinating way to teach children age 3 to 8 with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus how to take care of their disease.
The onset of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus in young children is devastating for their parents. Many parents blame themselves for the child’s disease. The child is usually frightened and angry about having to take shots. They are also angry about the food restrictions and the fact that they are different from their friends. Often they become rebellious and try to avoid the shots or do not comply with the rules of food intake.
Everyone has seen a 5 year old mesmerized by Leapster, an educational computer game. Children feel compelled to master Leapster. It keeps their attention for hours.
Two recent college graduates Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung designed and are now marketing Jerry The Bear.
They participated in a wonderful program called Design for America program at Northwestern University while in college.
"Without believing in our ability to develop and implement innovative solutions that can address the world’s challenges, we will not even act.
We can’t innovate if we don’t believe that we can. We must work together with those from all different backgrounds and perspectives, we must work with our community, and we must support each other in our efforts improve the world around us.
Design for America’s vision is a world where people believe in their ability to innovate and tackle the most ill-structured challenges of our time.
Design for America teaches human centered design to young adults and collaborating community partners through extra-curricular, university based, student led design studios to look locally, create fervently and act fearlessly. DFA currently tackles national challenges in Education, Health, Economy and Environment."
Aaron and Hannah produced Jerry the Diabetic Teddy Bear. After graduating college this year they applied and were accepted to a TechStars affiliated accelerator program in Rhode Island Beta Springs to further develop Jerry.
Jerry the Diabetic Teddy Bear is a fantastic teaching tool for young children. Young kids love their Teddy Bears. Jerry helps kids with Type 1 Diabetes adjust to their new lifestyle. By playing with Jerry children will learn to master their medical procedures.
Diabetic children will transfer the anger they feel at the onset of Type 1 Diabetes into an intense responsibility for taking care of their Jerry the Diabetic Bear.
The child with Type 1 Diabetes learns how to vary insulin doses and food intake through a computer chip algorithm game. The game teaches how to determine insulin dosage and food intake in order to keep Jerry the Diabetic Bear’s blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
In turn the child learns how to take care of his own Diabetes. The child learns to be responsible for Jerry’s care and in turn his/her own care in order to remain healthy. Education must be made entertaining and purposeful. Jerry the Diabetic Teddy Bear is an effective educational vehicle that is simple and purposeful.
There is no reason that innovative teaching applications like Jerry the Diabetic Teddy Bear could not be produced for children with other chronic diseases such as asthma.
Design for America promotes the innovative thinking in young college students. It expands imaginative thinking in order to create new and effective products.
Rather than whine about the obesity epidemic in America we should be teaching children through entertaining and purposeful innovative educational ways to learn about food values, exercise and obesity.
This type of education should be universal if we are going to educate our population about the prevention and care of chronic disease.
This is a powerful way to reduce healthcare costs.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone
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