For this activity, you will need a basket or tub, foam balls or bean bags in two distinct color sets, a blindfold for each participant, and a space that is safe to use for flying objects?(i.e. without delicate, easily breakable items).
Divide participants into two even teams. Give each team one set of the balls/bean bags. Each team should have a different color set. Explain that this activity involves them throwing their balls/bean bags into a central basket. The projectiles represent glucose, one of the body’s main energy sources, the basket represents the body, and the players represent insulin, which transports glucose into the body’s cells. (Whether or not you explain the symbolism at the beginning is up to you -- you can lay it all out right away or use it as a great “reveal” during your subsequent discussions).
Teams will have one minute to throw as many of their balls into the basket as they can. Once the time is up, the round will end. The team with the most balls in the basket wins. Pretty straightforward, right? What’s happening here is a representation of typical body function. Participants are acting out the regular role of insulin – transporting glucose into the body’s cells.
Have teams return to their starting spots, and pass out the blindfolds. Explain that this time they are going to do the same thing, only blindfolded. Have everyone assist each other in putting on blindfolds, checking to make sure that it isn’t easy to peek. Repeat the activity for one minute, then tally the number of balls in the basket. Explain that the number of balls in the basket is much lower this time, with many more balls lying discarded around the room. Tally points, announce a winner, and have participants return to their seats.
Once everyone is sitting down, discuss the concept of insulin resistance and its relationship to diabetes. Have participants volunteer their guesses about the game they just played and its connection to insulin resistance. Explain the connection to insulin resistance and answer any questions that may arise.
This presentation idea is an excerpt from our brand-new educational program, The 12 Lessons of Diabetes. This program follows the same format as the other fantastic 12 Lessons packages and is chock-full of insight from a wide variety of health and nutrition professionals.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.