While we're on the subject of diabetes and art this week, we want to introduce a couple of whizbang! projects that are taking the notion of diabetes education via artwork to a whole new level: in comic book form...
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Learning About Diabetes, Inc.
The folks at the Arizona-based Learning About Diabetes, Inc., a non-profit charity focused on creating diabetes education materials, approached us during AADE to tell us about a new kind of interactive comic book they're creating for teens with diabetes. In this series, a teen is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and deals with the aftermath. But unlike a traditional comic book, the plot is developed with input from readers. Starting on Sept. 15, teens are encouraged to visit the website, read the latest chapter, and then chime in with how they'd continue the story. Suggestions for the next chapter will be accepted for seven days, and then within 10 days from that date the next chapter will be posted on the website.
"Where the story goes next will be based on suggestions sent in by teenagers with type 1 diabetes — based on their own real-life experiences with diabetes," says Paul Tracey, the founder of Learning About Diabetes and a former medical marketer and writer. Paul explains that this is all part of an investigative research project into alternative methods of educating teens with diabetes. Unfortunately, Paul wouldn't elaborate on specific goals for the research or even a timeline, so we'll just have to use our imaginations.
Learning About Diabetes already has a whole collection of learning materials in illustrated short story and comic book formats, available in English and Spanish, and designed for low literacy levels. Of their two existing comic books, one is on type 2 diabetes and the other on carb counting.
The new series for teens will be available for free on the Learning About Diabetes website in both English and Spanish.
Medikidz is a UK-based company that's been producing informational comic books written by doctors for children on a wide variety of diseases. Launched in 2009, they describe their efforts as "Marvel meets Medicine." Medikidz now covers 30 topics, from type 1 diabetes to food allergies, to more grown-up topics like HIV and breast cancer. All the Medikidz comics feature five "larger than life" superheroes — Pump, Chi, Skinderella, Gastro, Axon — who help educate readers about the disease.
The type 1 diabetes comic book, What's Up with Ella?, features a child with diabetes who faints during a school presentation. The five superheroes jump in, helping Ella to cope with her diabetes:
"Along the way Ella will learn all about the importance of glucose and witness up-close the way in which the body converts it to energy. She sees battles between beta cells and immune system armies, and watches glucose and insulin hitting the clubs, as the Medikidz teach her everything she needs to know about her type 1 diabetes. Importantly, they will give her the essential knowledge about insulin that she needs in order to be in control of her condition."
This comic book is available for purchase at the Medikidz site for $11.99.
Comic Lovers, let us know what you think of these creative educational tools! Think the Medikidz gang could take on the Fantastic Four?