Creating diabetes superheroes at the first virtual event held recently included activities for young people living with the condition to create their own type 1 diabetes superheroes.

Following the success of the first of two virtual events for young people living with type 1 diabetes this year, one talented young artist has seen her creation immortalised in print.

A virtual camp for young people living with type 1 diabetes

DRWF in collaboration with children’s charity Over The Wall this year present two Camp In The Cloud events.

The free virtual camps for children with type 1 diabetes in the UK are specifically for families with children with type 1 diabetes aged from birth to 17.

The first type 1 diabetes Camp in the Cloud took place on 27th March.

Places still available for the second Camp in the Cloud event this year scheduled for 16th October – more information here

DRWF, in collaboration with Consultant Physician in Diabetes, Dr Mayank Patel from University Hospital Southampton and member of the DRWF Editorial Advisory Board, and Danny McLaughlin at Revolve Comics, ran a comic book workshop where we invited the children to create their very own type 1 diabetes heroes and villains and a short story to go with their characters.

This was the first workshop of this kind DRWF has run, via video link at a virtual event. The workshop was a great success with lots of positive feedback from the families on its uniqueness, fun and engagement.

Xanthe's diabetes superhero comic book cover created by Revolve Comics
Xanthe with her artwork created by Revolve Comics

As planned, DRWF selected one of the children’s creations, which was then sent to Danny and his artist Jim at Revolve to be turned into a comic book cover. The artwork we chose was by 11-year-old Xanthe Taylor.

Xanthe was only diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about seven months ago, so this is all very new to her and her family. Her mum Paula said Xanthe is beside herself with excitement at being selected in the random draw. She absolutely loves drawing and they found the camp to be of great support and help, especially meeting other families with children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The finished comic cover has now been presented to Xanthe as an art canvas and you can see the results here, along with Xanthe’s original drawing. This artistic rendering features her superhero creations ‘Super Nurse’ and ‘Insulin Thief’.

The type 1 diabetes Family Camp in the Cloud event was launched to address the needs of the children who were scheduled to attend our residential camp in 2020, with the aim of bringing the magic of camp directly into their homes.

The participants of the Family Camp in the Cloud received amazing activity boxes containing lots of goodies to support the bespoke online platform for a fully interactive camp experience.

The response to this was incredible with participants being able to communicate, join in activities and experience the joy and magic of camp - all from the comfort of their own homes.

The response to this was incredible with participants being able to communicate, join in activities and feel the joy and magic of Over The Wall camps - all from the comfort of their own homes.

DRWF and Over The Wall hope to reintroduce venue-based camps for children with type 1 diabetes in 2022, but will closely monitor circumstances.

Sarah Tutton, DRWF Chief Executive, said: “The Camp in the Cloud event held earlier this year was really well received with 40 families - almost 150 people – attending the day. It was amazing! The concept of camp as a virtual experience allows us to reach those children with serious illnesses who may not be able to attend our physical venues due to a variety of reasons such as medical or mobility limitations.

In the future, we hope to support families of children with type 1 diabetes through a mix of virtual and residential events allowing children to experience the mischief and magic of camp, regardless of the constraints of their illness.”

It is currently estimated there are around 29,000 children in the UK living with type 1 diabetes.

For these young people, quality of life can be adversely affected by isolation and their inability to participate in many of the everyday activities enjoyed by their friends and peers.

This often results in a growing lack of self-esteem and confidence which can become a barrier to future growth and development.

Over The Wall’s residential programmes (rated outstanding by Ofsted), are designed to bring about transformational change, helping young people with long-term conditions to tackle these issues.

DRWF and Over The Wall worked together to host the first residential camp in 2019 specifically for families with children with type 1 diabetes in the hope that young campers return home with a new sense of their abilities and ambitions and feeling far less isolated.

Thanks to the generosity of DRWF supporters we gave 20 children living with type 1 diabetes and their families the experience of a residential camp at no cost to them.

The camp was a welcome addition to DRWF’s existing award-winning diabetes wellness event programme for which the charity received the Judges’ Special Award and Highly Commended in the Empowering People with Diabetes category, at the annual Quality in Care Diabetes Awards in 2017.

Sarah Tutton, DRWF Chief Executive, said: “There are still places available for our October Camp in the Cloud event, so please don’t miss the opportunity to experience a wonderful event.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Over The Wall again in 2022 and look forward to providing some much-need fun, and respite, in what has been a really challenging period for us all.”

Xanthe describing herself

Xanthe Taylor’s mother on discovering her daughter had type 1 diabetes

Xanthe Taylor, 11, from Bristol, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just seven months ago. Despite time spent isolating at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, she participated in the virtual Camp in the Cloud to learn more about living with type 1 diabetes and share her experience online with other children and families from across the country.

Xanthe’s mum Paula said: “A bit like type 1 diabetes, every day is a battle, every day is different but as a family we have learned to do things like carb-count, work out insulin doses and inject and work through the highs and lows together.

“Xanthe loves drawing and art so the comic book workshop with Danny from Revolve Comics, Lee from DRWF and Dr Patel from Southampton General Hospital really interested her. She designed her characters based on her own story really! How she played football and how the Insulin Thief raided her pancreas, and the Super Nurse gave her more insulin and made her better again to score the winning Goal!”

Xanthe and her family found the camp to be of great support and help, especially meeting other families with children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Xanthe and her family with her artwork

Paula said: “Xanthe plays football three times a week and is pretty good. Recently she started to get tired on the pitch, lack motivation and didn’t seem interested so much to the point that the coach noticed and asked if she has asthma. I rang doctor (due to Covid-19 restrictions we couldn’t go in) and told them Xanthe’s symptoms over the phone. I asked if it was asthma specifically, but they said it didn’t sound like it. It was half-term and as the week went on, I noticed Xanthe was going to the toilet more and drinking lots. I knew something wasn't right and rang the doctors again and asked if they could do a urine sample as I thought she has a urine infection.

“Xanthe went in and after they tested the sample, they told me I needed to get her to our local accident and emergency depratment immediately, as they suspected Xanthe had type 1 .diabetes. I had no idea what this meant. At the time her blood-glucose level was 33 mmol/mol and she had ketones of 6. Life very quickly changed for all of us from this moment on. Everyone we have met has been amazing, and the diabetes community has been like getting a new family! Every group and person I have spoken to feel the same as we feel. You want something to blame but nothing is to blame.

“Then we were told about the Camp in the Cloud, and we decided as a family to do it. We dedicated our weekend to it and loved every minute! Xanthe was a bit nervous to begin with, but she started speaking more towards the end.”

Danny McLaughlin, at Revolve Comics, said: “Everyone at Revolve Comics loves to see the creativity that comics can bring to young people along with learning. Well done to Xanthe on creating some brilliant artwork and wonderful characters that hopefully will inspire more young people living with diabetes to get creating their stories too."

Dr Mayank Patel, Consultant in Diabetes at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and member of the DRWF Editorial Advisory Board, said: “As co-creators of the Type 1 Diabetes comics series, Professor Partha Kar, Danny at Revolve and I, have been blown away by how well this has been received by those living with type 1 diabetes and those close to them, healthcare professionals and members of the public.

“I was delighted to be approached by the DRWF to support their virtual diabetes family camp. To spend some time online, seeing and hearing from kids living with type 1 diabetes and their parents, whilst watching them create their own brilliant array of diabetes related comic characters live was absolutely fantastic! I think us grown up comic creator types have got some serious competition.”

Lee Calladine, DRWF Educational Event Co-ordinator, said: “Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic was always going to be a challenge for us in terms of continuing to deliver the much-needed educational, emotional, and practical support people living with diabetes need. Creating some virtual events to replace our usual face-to-face events was the most practical approach and helped us reach people all over the UK. We were delighted to work in partnership with children's charity Over The Wall on this first and unique virtual family camp for children living with type 1 diabetes.

“The camp was a huge success providing a day jam packed with fun activities and workshops. Our creative comic book workshop was "Super", and the children blew us away with their imagination and diabetes hero and villain creations.

“A big well done to Xanthe for her chosen characters Super Nurse and Insulin Thief. We hope she loves her re-created comic book cover.  Our work continues and we are very much looking forward to our next virtual camp in October and welcoming some new families. We wonder what creations our young diabetes campers will come up with then?” 

Camp in the Cloud
A second one-day event is set to be held on 16 October 2021 (open to UK residents and running from 9:30am to 10:30pm. 
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