The Betes | Diabetes Education
Diabetes, betes, puppet, art, education
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Hi, I'm Marina.
I'm a performing artist, puppeteer, and educator who lives in New York City.
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This is my pet, Betes.
Type 1 Diabetes and I have lived together for 25 years.
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Betes and I have had a very complicated relationship.
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Why are you so difficult, Betes?!
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Let's come together and take care of the Betes.
Find out more below.


You are an active participant in the journey to understanding your own health. Education occurs when there is emotional engagement.

Emotional Health

Emotional health is a critical component of diabetes management. The performing arts are a powerful way to connect us to our emotions.


Being threatened by death and complications is not inspiring. Health takes commitment, knowledge of your own needs, and access to resources.

Humanizing Disease

To feel pain is to be human. To feel joy is to be human. Healthcare is a human story.

World Health

Diabetes is where the personal meets the global. The diabetes epidemic and climate change are intimately interconnected.

The Statistics

According to the The American Diabetes Association, the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007.

Our Mission
Joyful health for all, free from the negative effects of diabetes.
Our Vision
Support diabetes care, education, and prevention through high-quality performing and multi-media arts.

Our Team




Marina Tsaplina

Marina is the founder and catalyst of The Betes. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was 2 years old. When she was little she wanted to be an artist, a dancer, a teacher and a diabetes doctor. The Betes is her doing precisely that, with a twist: directing the power of theater in service to one of the greatest health crises of our time.



Deborah Kaufmann

Deborah is a performer and director who has worked at the intersection of art and health care for 27 years.  As the Associate Creative Director of Community Programs for the Big Apple Circus’ Clown Care, she trains and oversees the ongoing artistic excellence of over 60 unique clown doctors across the US, and develops workshops that impart the skills of interactive performers to medical professionals and corporate groups.


Our core creative team is grateful to be supported by a diverse group of collaborators.

This community is growing more as the work and awareness spreads.


Chris Moffett

Chris works with The Betes to redefine the philosophy and practice of education in health care. He is founder of the The New Ergonomics and holds a PhD in Philosophy and Education.


Donatella Braghieri

Dona holds a medical degree from St Andrews University in Scotland and is on a contract with NASA as a medical researcher in the field of climate change.   She moved to NYC to become an environmental, human, and animal rights worker and contributes her diverse skill set to The Betes.


Fergus Walsh

Fergus has been supported by Henson Foundation, the Arts Council of Ireland and has been an Artist in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. He brings his expertise to The Betes as a professional puppet designer, builder and performance collaborator.


Belinda Rodriguez

Belinda has worked with as a Fossil Free Fellow and has contributed her excellent research skills to The Betes.

 Board of Advisors


Ray Woods

Ray Woods

Ray has been creating great experiences for customers for nearly twenty years and serves as a User Experience Consultant for The Betes. Working with nearly all major media companies including Fox, The Walt Disney Company, AOL Time Warner and NBC Universal, his work explores the boundaries of interactive experiences. Now an independent consultant and artist, Ray continues to explore and create delightful and engaging user experiences.


Laura D. Wingate

Laura D. Wingate

Laura is giving her expansive knowledge of the non-for-profit health sector to The Betes.

After assisting the redesign of the outpatient center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and streamlining the patient experience, she served for 8 years as the Director of Operations for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Program. Ms. Wingate currently serves as Vice President of Patient and Professional Services of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and is liaison to the CCFA National Scientific Advisory Committee and the CCFA Board of Directors.


John Oldfield

John Oldfield

John serves as a financial adviser to The Betes. Guided by his financial acumen, political activism and commitment to the greater social good, John leads the efforts of WASH Advocates to increase awareness of and support for the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. He has implemented democratization programs across the globe and dabbled in private equity.


Jean Marie

Jean Marie Keevins

As a former VP of Business Development and a working puppet artist, Jean Marie brings her holistic approach of awareness building to The Betes.  With clients such as The Walt Disney Company, Diet Coke and The Daily Show under her belt, Jean Marie is now spearheading the development of her boutique company, Little Shadow Productions.  A three time recipient of Jim Henson Foundation grants, it is with Little Shadow that she now focuses on unique, mission-oriented work, intended for the masses. Clearly, The Betes is a natural fit. As the child of a diabetic, it is important to her that the illness be handled with light and love, and wherever possible…puppets!


What People are Saying


Your performance helped me understand my fathers diabetes in a whole new way.- Audience Response

testimonial_quoteYou are reaching to a profound and untapped truth: that we make a big mistake in objectifying diabetes as a physiological thing with support provided by medicines and tests and protocols when it is also totally subjective with feelings and senses and emotional needs that are unsupported. This is especially so for children who have to go through all the normal mysteries of growing up while isolated by their condition from others who see them as different and who cannot share what they are going through.

- David Dell

testimonial_quoteYou’re a wonder, smart, brave, humble and passionate writer/performer/artist!

- Karen Kandel


Working in Partnership

We work with medical and educational providers, adults, children, diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Book us.