Gamification to learn about health. Estonian Children’s Diabetes Association Case Study

November 22, 2016 - 4 minutes read

One of the goals of Loquiz is to make people physically move outdoor. Moderate physical exercise benefits mind and body, helping to prevent and support managing with many diseases. So when Estonian Children’s Diabetes Association contacted us for cooperation project we were more than happy to take part. Here is a  guest article with a case study of how the gamification worked out for educating children about diabetes.

Estonian Children’s Diabetes Association (ELDÜ) was founded in 2009 in cooperation between doctors and parents. Its main goal is to improve everyday life of children with the type 1 diabetes.The  type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas can’t make insulin because the immune system attacks it and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone which helps body to use energy from the food. The Type 1 diabetes in unpreventable and incurable. The treatment involves controlling blood sugar levels with injectable insulin, blood sugar level measuring, counting daily carbohydrate levels and physical activity.

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Managing with all this takes thorough knowledge about the disease from the child from day to day. One goal of ELDÜ is organizing trainings about diabetes to children, youngsters and their family members. We were looking for to make trainings playful and exciting and found Loquiz as fun solution with location based adventure games.

The first bigger use of the game was in this summer camps with 110 children. In the camp we tried to share knowledge about diabetes with methods they didn’t perceive as school classes. Healthy eating and carbohydrates calculating advice came with cooking together and the meal selection options in the cafeteria. In the camp there was the  variety of sports, hiking and swimming, all accompanied by measuring blood sugar levels connected to physical activity. Counting insulin dosage was assisted by nurses. New knowledge about high and low blood sugar level, diabetes and solving problems was taken back home. 

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To wrap up the camp, we created our own game with Loquiz. To complete it successfully players had to utilize fresh knowledge of counting carbohydrates, diabetes first aid, history of the disease as well the counting the amounts of insulin. Altogether 18 teams played, with 6-year old being youngest and 16-year old kids being oldest participants. We decided to make different games for younger and older age groups to make the adventure interesting and challenging enough for both. During the first camp session we rented tablets but as for the  limited budget the participants used their  own smartphones in the second turn. Even on phones all teams managed to play very well!

The  goal of the games was to find 31 locations in an historical Olustvere manor park. Children were engaged quickly- some teams run havoc to grab all locations, some created a plan to reach all location within the  time limit. It became quickly obvious that younger participants handle smart devices and read the map more skillfully than adults.

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As we had children with the  diabetes type 1 we were cautious to monitor that physical activity didn’t drive their blood sugar level too low and ruin the fun feeling. So we had nurses and group leaders running along the teams providing juice, glycose and muesli bars to raise the  blood sugar level. In need a small stop was made to measure it and eat something sweet.

Teams moved through 5 km without even noticing it, at the same time  developing teamwork skills and answering interesting and puzzle questions.

We were happy for the opportunity to create and run the  game with Loquiz.

 

Piret Loomets, Estonian Children’s Diabetes Association

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