It's been so much fun hosting the 2013 DiabetesMine 'Aware-lidays' Giveaway, mashing up November's Diabetes Awareness Month activities with the start of the Holiday Season (read: Awareness + Holidays = 'Aware-lidays!').
In our final installment today, we're excited to feature a super-fun prize that's near and dear to our hearts here at the 'Mine, and one that's being embraced by the Diabetes Community in so many great ways!
Hopefully you've heard of Jerry the Bear, the cute and cuddly stuffed bear with diabetes that's been growing up fast since first being pitched as a winning entry in the 2009 DiabetesMine Design Challenge. During the past four years, his young development team from Northwestern University has been building out this educational interactive (and fluffy!) toy bear and making inroads on getting him funded and recognized as a valuable teaching tools for kids with diabetes across the country.
Now, just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, we're thrilled to share that Jerry the Bear has just finished up its first production run of 250 bears in late November and those are being sent out to families of children with diabetes all over the United States.
We're even more excited to have the chance to give away TWO Jerry the Bears as prizes right here at the 'Mine, while giving you an update on the good work Jerry's doing.
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Fellow PWD Amanda Cedrone, who we're happy to say is still contributing to our team, took some time to talk with Jerry's co-creators, Hannah Chung and Aaron Horowitz, about all that's going on their world and what's in store for the future.
Very exciting is that aside from Hannah and Aaron, who are not actually living with diabetes themselves, the Jerry the Bear team (they refer to themselves as "Jerry's family!") has added a type 1 PWD team member named Andrew Berkowitz. He came on board about nine months ago and is responsible for building out the software interactions behind Jerry.
The growing "family" has been hard at work on Jerry since they began as a student design group in 2009. Hannah and Aaron tell us they went through 28 different models before sending this current model off to production. Wow!
Jerry now sports a color screen and several sensors on his body, and the toy creators say they've actually turned him into a game.
First, the sensors allow Jerry to interact with children in a very cool way. He has sensors on each leg, one on each buttocks, and one on each arm. By pressing one of those areas, the child is giving him a shot. His fingers also have sensors, and his blood sugar is checked by pressing them. Kids can also give Jerry food that has carb counts, programing Jerry's "pump" with bolus doses through his touch screen -- that are calculated based on the food he's been fed (you feed him by swiping a smart "food card" by his mouth). All of this plays out on his little computer screen known as the Glucopal, which looks like a pump or CGM.
The game portion is made up of six "levels" displayed on Jerry's touchscreen, with goals like helping him train for an All-Star Game or even for the Olympics. Each level has three interactive story books and one final game (or boss level) that the child must master in order to get to the next level. In other words, Jerry travels to different places and learns different sports, and each translates to a "new diabetes lesson." In order to unlock the stories in each level, the child must complete tasks related to Jerry's diabetes care -- for example, checking Jerry's blood glucose five times in one day. The tasks get more and more complex as the child progresses from one level to the next, like going from simple blood sugar checks to caring for Jerry during a sick day.
And in the end, it's all about the child helping Jerry learn how to effectively manage his diabetes, whilst of course learning how to manage their own.
"It's about feeling empowered to take ownership," Aaron says. "Learning about diabetes care can be fun. Jerry the Bear is making it less scary, especially for the younger kids diagnosed."
So what about age range? Jerry's supposedly targeted at ages 3-7, but does he respond the same way to a 3-year-old versus a 7-year-old? Aaron tells us that they expect younger kids to have their parents' help guiding them through the stories, whereas kids who are older and more independent in their D-Management can take care of Jerry and play the games independently.
In their research with kids, the team also figured out at one point that they needed to speed up the equations for how quickly results occur in Jerry's body based on the average attention span of the child, related to their age group.
Here's a video that Jerry's family made recently, describing how you take care of him:
For the past few months, the Jerry the Bear team has been taking pre-orders for the first ever shipment of bears that will arrive to their new homes by Christmas. The bears are being made at a factory in Phoenix, AZ.
Bears cost $250 out-of-pocket for consumers, but Aaron tells us they're working with insurers about possible coverage and exploring other ways to make Jerry as affordable as possible.
Jerry's creators realize that he's a bit pricey, and are doing something to help. They've launched the "Buy a Bear, Give a Bear" program, allowing people to order a simple, plush version of Jerry the Bear for $75 while also helping a family get a full diabetes version of Jerry. The breakdown: $39 of the total cost goes toward making and shipping the plush bear (which is the same size and feel as Jerry but doesn't have his "Glucopal" console), and the remaining $36 goes toward getting a real Jerry the Bear to a child in need. Plus, you get a personal note from the child who receives him... a double win!
Another great community effort involving Jerry got started on World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14: amazing D-peep Kim Vlasnik, creator of the You Can Do This Project, has teamed up with Jerry the Bear for an inspirational awareness campaign called "Diabetes Won't Stop Me." Definitely worth checking out and making a video of your own, if you haven't already! (Kim's also offering her own daily giveaway with Jerry later this week on Wednesday, so make sure to head on over to Texting My Pancreas that day for one more way to win!) You'll also be able to catch Hannah and Aaron over on DSMA Live 'Rents tonight at 9p EST.
So what's next for Jerry? During the next several months, Aaron says they plan to improve Jerry's software and add content to the bear's game and storyline based on feedback from this initial shipment. Another shipment with the 2nd gen Jerry (Jerry 2G? ) is planned for early Spring, and you can pre-order a bear on the organization's website.
They expect to ship 1,500 additional Jerry the Bears by the end of 2014, for a total of 2,000 toys overall.
It's so great to see Jerry and his family growing! And of course, we love how they're willing to offer some Jerry prizes to get the community excited...
We're happy to say that Jerry's family has offered to help us giveaway TWO of the newly-made Jerry the Bear stuffed toys!
To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below answering this question:
We love Jerry, of course... but if you could come up an interactive diabetes toy of your own, what would that be?
Be sure to include the keyword "DMProducts" somewhere in your comment so we know you're interested in winning a bear.
You have until Friday, Dec. 6, at 5pm PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
Hold on... that's not all! We are also able to offer something for all of our readers...
'Mine Reader Discount
Jerry's family has also generously offered a $15 discount for those who might not win our giveaway, but really want their own Jerry. Just enter the code JerryDBMine15 when pre-ordering a bear online.
Something for everyone, right?
Big bear hugs!