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Taking Aim at Childhood Diabetes

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diaBeaters! is a unique diabetes intervention aimed at supporting social work students studying to counsel families of children with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). diaBeaters! provides a multi-stepped, interactive intervention for social work students to guide parents and caregivers to make optimal nutrition and fitness choices for their families and to teach their children appropriate health habits. The release of diaBeaters! is timely, given that Type 2 Diabetes is the fastest growing pediatric epidemic of our decade.

Professor Mary Sormanti at the Columbia School of Social Work and Helaine Ciporen, clinical social worker at Mount Sinai Medical Center, partnered with CCNMTL to adapt an online intervention from Ms. Ciporen's forthcoming book into a digital format. The intervention, which was launched in October 2010, is being used by students in the Advanced Clinical Practices social work courses at Columbia University. The site includes educational modules with interactive learning activities, printable certificates to award children when they reach milestones, and administrative tools that enable students to manage the intervention. Complementing the work within diaBeaters!, the social work students are also loading role-playing video recordings into VITAL where they can be analyzed for various clinical skills, such as client engagement and listening, while using literature citations to make adjustments in their clinical practice.

According to one social work student, "diaBeaters! was an extremely useful and organized program that allowed for the social worker to adequately discuss concepts of health, psychosocial factors and family dynamics during the session. Additionally, diaBeaters! probes the social worker to explore the family’s grasp of reading labels and new healthy habits."

diaBeaters! is currently restricted to students in the social work courses and programs at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. After these initial trials, a number of paper-based activities may be converted to online activities, pending results from the current trials and additional funding.