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02 July 2020

Animation to help school transition for pupils with Type 1 Diabetes

Co-designed with young people to increase understanding of their experiences.

Child on a unicycle next to a clock and adult male

A new animation has been created to help schools, healthcare teams and peers have a better understanding of what is helpful for young people with Type 1 diabetes starting secondary school. The animation has been co-designed with young people aged between 11-13 years as part of postgraduate research student Freya Brown’s PhD project, which is funded by the Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes (FEND).

Starting secondary school is a significant life event which can be both exciting and scary for any young person. However, for young people living with Type 1 diabetes, there can be additional challenges as they adapt to their new routine. Currently little is known about how Type 1 diabetes can affect a person’s experience of starting secondary school or the impact this transition might have on their day to day diabetes self-management. Therefore, it is important to understand more about this period of their lives and identify appropriate support to promote a positive school transition experience for these young people, with implications for their ongoing biopsychosocial health and wellbeing. A co-design approach was used to investigate these issues, involving young people with Type 1 diabetes, parents, school staff and healthcare professionals.

Based on their own experiences of the transition to secondary school, the young people taking part in this project suggested several strategies that they felt would be helpful to pupils with Type 1 diabetes. Many of the challenges they identified seemed to result from a lack of understanding of Type 1 diabetes in school, both among teaching staff and peers. This could result in barriers to diabetes self-management and experienced stigma. Therefore, they felt it was important to create resources to address this general lack of Type 1 diabetes awareness. The young people worked closely with creative team, Jonny Glover (animator @_jonnyglover) and John Fitzpatrick (scriptwriter) to produce an animation, ‘Starting Secondary School with Type 1 Diabetes’. This highlights some of the issues young people with Type 1 diabetes can encounter when they transition into secondary school, and busts a lot of common myths, providing important insights for parents, carers, school staff, peers, and healthcare professionals.

Experience-based co-design generated many ideas relating to preparation for the transition to secondary school and the support young people with Type 1 diabetes receive once they start. Access to support with the social and emotional aspects of managing Type 1 diabetes in secondary school was appreciated, in addition to practical help with diabetes management if needed. It was also important that this support be individualised and reviewed regularly. A priority for many was to increase awareness of Type 1 diabetes in schools. This project relied on the collaboration, commitment and creativity of the people taking part. The young people were eloquent, insightful and imaginative, with lots of important ideas, and Jonny and John did an amazing job of capturing these in the animation. I believe this will be a useful resource for young people (with and without Type 1 diabetes), parents, schools and healthcare professionals.

Freya Brown, Paediatric Diabetes Nurse and FEND Doctoral Research Fellow

This project is part of Freya’s three-year PhD. Once completed, she intends to apply for further funding so she can refine and test the emerging strategies.

In this story

Freya Brown

Research Associate