I am amazed at how much we have learned about managing and preventing type 2 diabetes over the past few years. I recall a time —which now seems like not so long ago — when I wondered why more attention wasn’t given to a condition that appeared to be totally devastating our communities. Now, diabetes prevention is receiving so much attention, that it has become its own industry. However, there is still so much more that we need to do and so many individuals we still need to reach. There are 84 million Americans with prediabetes, and 90% of them have no idea they have it, and that is why we must spread the word about type 2 diabetes.
Both the original diabetes prevention science and our own experience delivering the program, has taught us that making moderate lifestyle changes can make a big difference, but changing behaviors is so hard for folks. In fact, it is such a challenge for many that they simply give up. They often believe that they just cannot make the necessary behavior changes or they are simply not able to overcome the barriers they face. Oftentimes these barriers include not having access to affordable healthy foods, safe spaces to be physically active (i.e.; walking) or some loved one or friend trying to sabotage their attempts to change.
Over the past 6 years, the Black Women’s Health Imperative has worked with several organizations in different states (AL, IN, CA, LA, MD, MI, MS, TN, TX) and communities of color to offer our lifestyle change program – Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. (CYL²).
CYL² Program Partners:
AM Health Services, LLC: Lafayette, LA
AM Health Services offers CYL² to residents in Lafayette parish with plans to expand to Baton Rouge.
Black Women for Wellness: Los Angeles, CA
Black Women for Wellness offers CYL² at community and employer sites throughout LA county in English and Spanish.
Claiborne County Family Health Center: Port Gibson, MS
Claiborne County Family Medical Center offers CYL² in Claiborne, Copiah, Jefferson, and Warren counties.
Collins Wellness Center: District Heights, MD
Collins Wellness Center offers CYL² in English and Spanish to residents in Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Howard counties and also in Washington, D.C.
Fundamental Health Solutions: Jackson, TN
Fundamental Health Solutions offers CYL² to residents in Gibson, Haywood, Madison and Shelby counties.
Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Inc.: Indianapolis, IN
The Indiana Minority Health Coalition offers CYL² in Marion, Delaware, Grant, Howard, Johnson, and Madison counties in English and Spanish.
Outpatient Medical Center, Inc.: Natchitoches, LA
Outpatient Medical Center offers CYL² to patients and residents in Natchitoches, Madison, and Vernon parishes.
Rural Health Medical Program, Inc.: Selma, AL
Rural Health Medical Program offers CYL² in Dallas, Marengo, Perry, and Wilcox counties.
The Perfect Lifestyle: Houston, TX
The Perfect Lifestyle offers CYL² to Houston residents in Spanish only.
The Wellness Coalition: Montgomery, AL
The Wellness Coalition offers CYL² in Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon, and Montgomery counties in English and Spanish.
Urban Health Resource: Detroit, MI
Urban Health Resource offers CYL² to residents of citizens of Wayne County.
Whatley Health Services, Inc.: Tuscaloosa, AL
Whatley Health Services offers CYL² in Greene, Lamar, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, and Walker counties in English and Spanish.
Have we made a difference? We’d like to say we have, but as I stated above, there are still so many people to reach. But, the feedback from participants has been very positive. We do know that our lifestyle coaches are key and much of the credit for the participants’ success goes to them and their ability to motivate and support participants both during the group sessions and individually as needed. They make the program fun and interesting, and once participants start the program, they see the value and take advantage of the opportunity to have yearlong support (from both the coach and other participants) to change negative habits into positive ones.
So what can you do?
- Find us on Facebook (Black Women’s Health Imperative), Twitter (@BlkWomensHealth) YouTube (Black Women’s Health Imperative) and Instagram (@BlkWomensHealth) as we launch our Prediabetes Awareness campaign to increase the awareness of prediabetes and highlight our partners who are champions in making sure individuals have access to CYL².
- Share the information with everyone you know.
- Download the CDC Prediabetes Risk Test.
- Ask your doctor to give you the blood test so you will know your status.
- And…. if you live near one of our partners, contact them to enroll in one of their CYL² classes. You can also use the map on our website to find a lifestyle change program in any state.
SPREAD THE WORD!
Dr. Angela Ford joined the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) as the Program Manager for Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. (CYL² ) in January 2012, after retiring from the University of Pittsburgh. Angela oversees CYL²’s strategic direction and is responsible for guiding the program toward increasing the availability of CYL² in underserved communities, enrolling and sustaining participants in the program, increasing clinician screening, detection and referral of prediabetes, and helping to build the capacity of our program partners to sustain the program.