Invincible brings the support teens need as they progress along their care journeys through bite-sized training activities and stories from real people who know what it's like.
April 16, 2021
5 min read
I had just finished my first semester of college at the University of Michigan when I finally had gotten an answer to months of constant bathroom breaks, thirst, and weight loss: I had type 1 diabetes.
I was 18 and legally an adult…but mentally totally unprepared for what was to come.
The first few weeks were a blur. I brought home a stack of instructions and bag of medication and was pretty much on my own to figure it out. Overcoming my initial fear of needles was tough at first, but it was everything else that caught up to me:
Injecting my own insulin.
Figuring out how to balance blood sugar with food and insulin.
Learning how to exercise without fears of low blood sugar.
Overcoming the shock of diagnosis.
For the months ahead, I made some really good decisions — like eating well, working out regularly, and telling close friends. But with the good came some really bad ones — like rarely checking my blood sugar, frequently missing insulin doses, and finding a new love for Swedish Fish.
A year later I was right back where I started: at the hospital. Only this time, I had Diabetic Keto-acidosis (DKA) and could barely even walk. It was a massive wake-up call that completely changed about how I thought about type 1, and it was also entirely avoidable.
Navigating the first few weeks
It’s not easy finding out you have a chronic condition — especially one like diabetes. There’s confusion, fear, and even shame. Add on to it a bunch of knowledge, skills, and behaviors you need to adapt to and it can be downright scary.
I can still vividly remember going to a diabetes “support group” a couple weeks after I was diagnosed. I went in hoping to learn and hear from other going through the same thing. Instead what I found were a group of people all at least 40 years older than me who I just couldn’t relate to.
It was the first and only support group I’ve ever been to.
Learning is a pain
As teens grow up and take on more and more responsibilities for their care, things get more complicated — often leading to burnout, arguments, and hospitalizations.
Families and healthcare providers do their best to provide support, but growing up with type 1 is a constant set of challenges. Existing approaches and tools aren’t designed for teenagers, leading them to disengage from their care. Dealing with the mental and emotional toll of life with a chronic condition is tough at any age; for teens it can feel totally isolating.
Finding the sweet spot: A new learning tool to empower teens
Through our interviews on the Invincible Kids Network, I got to experience first-hand the power of story to teach and support kids, teens, and families. It got me thinking: what if we could use these real-life stories as a way to teach teens the skills to live with type 1?
Teens are notoriously difficult to engage, but platforms like Tik Tok and Snapchat have proven they crave social connections and contact from their peers.
Taking it further, what if we could utilize learnings from education platforms like Duolingo to build a truly engaging and interactive experience? A place that, rather than learning and making mistakes on your own, you have support through the journey and immediate feedback?
So we set out to reinvent the way diabetes education is delivered. After lots of iterations and testing with kids, teens, and parents, we were ready to bring our app to the world.
Meet Invincible — Diabetes Education made fun
Invincible brings the support teens need as they progress along their care journey. Bite-sized training modules guide users through missions, activities, and stories from real people who know what it’s like to grow up with type 1.
Incorporating proven best practices, Invincible lays out a skills roadmap that teens can easily follow to level-up their skills and get help from family as they need it. Fun isn’t usually a word you hear associated with health education content, but Invincible’s goal is to bring as much personality as the users we support.
Because nobody should feel alone, Invincible delivers real stories from real kids to prove they’re not alone in their journey.
The app guides users through bite-sized skill building activities that take best practice and translate it into a format teens can engage with and actually want to use.
My goal with this app is to build the tool I wish I had when I was diagnosed with type 1. The first few years after my diagnosis were an emotional rollercoaster, and I was totally unprepared to deal with everything that comes with type 1. My dream is to play a supporting role in every kid’s journey so they can get the support they need — when they need it — and ultimately, to choose the path they want to live.
The Invincible App is available on the Apple and Android App Stores. Check it out today!