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TODAY news for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

Diabetes patient and family develop board game to teach about disease

Martha and Rudy Jr. Barroso
The Future Focus game teaches players, kids or adults, about diabetes, say game creators Martha (right) and Rudy Jr. Barroso.
Martha Barroso knows a lot about diabetes. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which is when the pancreas cannot produce insulin, when she was 9 years old, she is now 14. And with the help of her younger brother, Rudy Jr., she’s helping share her knowledge of diabetes with other children with a board game they developed called Future Focus.

The trivia-based game, which took two years to create, revolves around several players quizzing each other about the disease. Card topics range from symptoms of diabetes like extreme thirst, fatigue, and blurry vision to common things you can do to keep yourself healthy such as checking feet often and making sure to visit the optometrist on a regular basis. Correct answers give players the ability to move their pieces forward toward the goal. Wrong answers are penalized with a lost turn, or worse, reverse movement setting players back on the board lined with pictured tiles of fruits, vegetables, and various healthy foods.

“I’ve learned that diabetes is a hard disease to live with,” Martha says. “But this game will help kids to learn about diabetes.”

To give kids an easy way to find the game and talk about diabetes, Martha started a Future Focus Club at Riverside Poly High School.

About one in every 400 to 500 children has Type 1 diabetes according to statistics from the American Diabetes Association. Type 1 diabetes primarily affects children.

Learning how to manage the disease can make all the difference in a child’s life, says Eba Hathout, MD, a physician and director of the pediatric diabetes center at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

With the help of some sponsors, the Barroso family is donating the game to other children with diabetes at the pediatric diabetes center. The interest has grown so much that several elementary schools have also requested the game, but the family needs more sponsors to make the game more widely available.

“Our goal is to teach kids just diagnosed with diabetes how to get a head start in dealing with it,” says Rudy Barroso, Martha and Rudy Jr.’s father. “Why can’t learning be fun? We’re trying to reach as many people as possible.”

The game itself began out of questions from Rudy Jr. after finishing one of the diabetes support group meetings at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He understood that even the smallest mistake could land his sister in the hospital, but didn’t know what those mistakes were. Thus he and his sister created Future Focus.

“The game has given us a way to help kids who are struggling with diabetes,” says Rudy Jr.

The siblings recently recorded a radio commercial about the game that began airing on KOLA 99.9 FM on November 14.

To learn more about the game or about sponsorship, visit <www.futurefocusgame.com>.

TODAY news for Thursday, December 1, 2005