James has had such an awesome experience with extracurricular activities! I have seen him in his basketball and karate classes and I can tell you…the amount of energy and enthusiasm this kid has is amazing! It’s no wonder that he burns through a couple of juice boxes during every practice! I wish I could bottle his enthusiasm and give some to Kaitlyn!

So far, Kaitlyn’s experience with extracurricular activities has been limited to a very tame ballet class. We got ready for the first class and she was super excited to do some “ballet-ing.” She had a brand new dance outfit and shoes, and her hair was tied up in a bun with a pink ribbon. She looked absolutely adorable and seemed thrilled to start! But when we got there, she just completely froze as soon as we walked in. It wasn’t until halfway through the class that she finally decided to participate. The next class was the same, but as much as I tried, she wouldn’t go up to dance with the other girls. I did everything (short of doing the dance moves myself) to get her to participate. But after two more classes of sitting in the back and watching, we decided that we were done and didn’t go back.

You can imagine my frustration of having paid for the classes and spending the time to get her to go, only to have it be a negative experience for her, me and my three other impatient kids, whom I dragged along each time.

Everyone keeps telling me how important sports and extracurricular activities are for kids with diabetes. I want Kaitlyn to have fun and to develop the good habit of staying physically active, but these kinds of activities have not been successful avenues so far. She would rather sit for hours and set up a magnificent “party” for all her little toys and animals than participate in a class or sports program. She’s just so painfully shy! I’m not sure how she’ll overcome her shyness, but until she does, there are still lots of things we can do that keep her active. Some of our favorite activities for her to do are:

  • Swimming! Once it warms up, we spend a LOT of time in the pool. It’s a great way to get active and stay cool during the hot summer months!
  • Park time! Need to get some of that excess energy out? It seems like there’s always another parent with the same idea at the local park. Yay! Instant play friends!
  • Riding bikes in the cul-de-sac! We find a cul-de-sac. We bring bikes. We go in circles. Awesome.
  • Dancing to music! My husband plugs his iPod into the house stereo and has dance contests with the girls. Way more aerobic than most group sports I can think of!
  • Hiking/family walks! Go find some open space and breathe the fresh air! We live close to dozens of hiking trails. I like to go to one of my favorite hiking Web sites, enter a city, and it tells me all of the great hikes in that area.

See? No excuses for not staying active!

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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