Week One of Youth Diabetes Camp – Interview with Dr. Michael Riddell

The first week of the Youth Type 1 Diabetes Sports Camp, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit interviewed Prof. Michael Riddell, asking him about some of his reasons and motivations for starting this camp. We also began to learn more about what the camp is all about.

Dr. Riddell was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 14 and continued to be a very active adolescent engaging in various sports, including basketball, tennis and mountain biking throughout the time of his diagnosis. Although at the time of the diagnosis, there was limited research on the effects of sports on diabetes. Dr. Riddell eventually went on to get his PhD, specializing in energy metabolism during exercise in children and adolescents. In the ensuing years he decided to focus his research on how exercise affects blood glucose levels in persons with type 1 diabetes. 3 years ago Dr Riddell noticed that although adults with diabetes had the opportunity to go to a newly established sports camp in the U.S., none were in place for children. This set in motion the start of the Diabetes Sports Camp at York University, a unique camp in that it is the first of its kind.

Now children aged 8-16 with diabetes have the opportunity to engage in a sport of their choosing where they will receive excellent coaching from varsity athletes as well as guidance on how to best manage their condition. This camp is now run in conjunction with the York University Sports and Recreation summer camps offered to all youth between the ages of 8-16 years. Not only are children with diabetes able to develop their athletic skills in a monitored environment, but they are able to share stories and strategies with other children who have diabetes.

Dr. Riddell has been running this camp for 3 years with the aim to further his research in the field of sports, active living and their effects on diabetes. Last year’s camp was the basis for a study that has been published in the International Journal of Pediatrics last week. This research examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance in youth with Type 1. This year’s camp also has a research component focusing on the development of new strategies to prevent low blood sugar levels. Kids are mobilizing knowledge by having fun and by contributing to the study. This is what KMb is all about!

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