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Today - 14th November - is World Diabetes Day, marked globally to raise awareness of the condition which affects over 422 million people worldwide. OneCoWork Marina Port Vell member and neuro-linguistic programmer, Alexandra Estruch Corts, a former school teacher turned gamification expert, combined her passions to create a solution for children to learn about their condition. We sat down with her to find out more, but first, if you’re unfamiliar with diabetes in 2018, here’s the deal:

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the patients have high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time and is usually associated with insulin - the chemical our bodies use to break down and make use of sugar. 

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1 is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin - though we don’t know why. Type 2 is due to insulin resistance of the body cells and Type 3 occurs only in pregnant women. 

Research shows that Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by three factors: obesity, a lack of mobility and a high-carbs diet. Diabetes is commonly treated with artificial insulin, which patients can administer themselves via injection. Anti-diabetic medication like metformin is also used to tackle the condition.

So Alex, before we get into the details, can you explain to us what Gamification is?

Gamification is taking the mechanisms and elements of a game and applying them to an environment that doesn’t have anything to do with a game, to achieve your predetermined objective.

Simply put, it’s turning a the presented challenge into a game to make it easier to complete.

So now tell us about the program, Be Your Own Superhero

I want to make it easier for children who were recently diagnosed with diabetes to learn about and understand their condition. They shouldn’t have to know they’re learning about diabetes, which can be a scary and daunting experience; rather, through the game experience they should want to continue and the result will be the knowledge they gain. 

Be Your Own Superhero is an all-encompassing program, which combines storytelling, games and more, all designed in a way that makes the child the protagonist of the experience. The aim is to empower the children to take control and to do so willingly; so that they are making the necessary decisions, rather than being constantly told what to do by their parents.

Children with diabetes quickly gain incredible maturity; they have to. But currently, the experience is very negative. Be Your Own Superhero turns it into a game, something positive and fun!

And what made you decide to leave teaching and work on this?

Well I was working in a school and had a pupil who had just been diagnosed with diabetes. She was super joyful and super happy; she explained it all to me in a very manner-of-fact way, with incredible knowledge and comprehension of the different components that far surpassed her years. 

I asked how she was taught all this and she said, “well, they sat me down at a table and told me I had to know it”.

At that point, I was shocked. Surely there was a more original way to explain these things! And whilst this girl was a confident child who took it in her stride, many others don’t. The psychological effects can be really severe. I had other pupils, unlike this girl, who still questioned, after 5 years with diabetes, “Why me?”. That’s normal and justified; but I want to change it.

How has OneCoWork help you develop the project?

The support from the community of members was invaluable - as were the community managers who linked me up with people. For example, as part of a competition I had to pitch the program to a group of experts. I was really nervous, but rehearsing to a group of other OneCoWork members, who were supportive, non-judgemental and gave constructive advice, definitely contributed

What´s your vision to continue?

Let’s put it this way; this isn’t going to be something small! I can’t tell you exactly where we’ll be in 5 or 10 years, but I fully plan on growing nationally and internationally. At the same time, for the moment I want to focus on diabetes. People have suggested I diversify and create experiences for other conditions, but I’d rather grow the project in one area first, make it amazing, make it huge and make an impact. Later on, with the experience gained, I’m sure it will progress further though.

Alex’s is just one of the incredible projects our OneCoWork members are working on. It’s the perfect hub for creativity and exploration! We look forward to helping Alex develop and grow her program further.

You can find out more about Be Your Own Superhero here: http://www.setupropiosuperheroe.es/ 

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