The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is launching a faith-based campaign in Eatonville to increase awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and provide education on how to prevent and treat the disease. The effort is supported by a $115,630 grant approved by the Winter Park Health Foundation through its Community Health Work Group.
Called Live EMPOWERED, the evidence-based program targets African American communities. It will provide 18 faith communities with a foundation for integrating diabetes awareness messages and healthy living tips into the life of the family and faith community. It is scheduled to begin July 1, 2012.
Eatonville Councilman Alvin Moore, who in late 2011 became gravely ill and was rushed to the hospital where he spent four days, nearly falling into a diabetic coma, helped inspire the launch of the program in his community.
During his recovery, he said he was continually amazed by how widespread the disease is in his community, evidenced by the large numbers of friends and family confiding in him that they too had diabetes – even his own brother. “I found that there is a lack of understanding of the disease and a fear of being seen as sick or weak and this was discouraging people from taking necessary steps to get healthy.”
Since his diagnosis, Moore has lost more than 70 pounds, changed his diet and is exercising at least three times a week. As a Councilman, he said he wanted to help others in the community, so he approached the ADA and asked how he might volunteer.
This prompted the Association to bring the program to the nine faith communities in Eatonville and surrounding churches serving the African American community.
Live EMPOWERED will engage the faith communities in a variety of year-round activities that provide lessons focused on improving the health of faith community members living with diabetes, their families and the greater community as well. Using culturally appropriate materials and community-based activities that empower, educate and create measurable differences in the prevalence of diabetes and its complications among people of African descent, the program’s target audience is all people of African descent, whether they identify themselves as being African American, Black, African, or from the Caribbean.
Live EMPOWERED includes:
Diabetes Days: Designed to integrate diabetes awareness messages into the fabric of the faith community, participating faith communities and community based organizations talk about the seriousness of diabetes from the pulpit and during meetings.
Living with Type 2 Diabetes: A free, 12-month program that provides information and support to people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes via telephone and direct mail.
Workshops: Educational workshops conducted in faith communities or local community centers, focusing on diabetes prevention and management.
According to the ADA, diabetes is one of the most serious health problems the African American community faces today. Twenty-five percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes. One in four American women over 55 years of age has diabetes. In Florida, 16% of the population is Black, compared to 12.6%, nationwide.
By comparison, Census 2010 race data for the Town of Eatonville include the racial breakdown percentages of 82.8% Black, 0.7% Asian and 9.1% Hispanic.