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Programs with Power: African American Initiatives at the American Diabetes Association

Educating & supporting African Americans living with diabetes

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US DiabetesLaura

Earnestine Walker of the American Diabetes AssociationEarnestine

To wrap up this week’s spotlight on programs and resources that serve the African American community, I thought we’d look at some of the programming offered by the American Diabetes Association. In 1994, the Association launched its African American Programs with the “Project Power” program, headed by Dr. James Gavin. Since then, the Initiative has grown to offer more programs, especially for those living with type 2 diabetes. Earnestine Walker, Director of African American and Older Adult Initiatives, has proven instrumental in developing that programming.

“‘Project Power,’ our faith-based program, is our cornerstone,” she said. “It’s the foundation for everything that we do. The black church is seen as a trusted source of information, so our material is readily received. Black churches have a 50 percent greater attendance rate as opposed to other churches, so we know that if we can get into that church we have a great opportunity to get the word out to a lot of people.”

The year-long program consists of six modules, including education on the basics of diabetes, the link between heart disease and diabetes, and the importance of exercise and nutrition. Participants can start the program any time, and have a year to complete it. “We strongly recommend and encourage staff to always have a healthcare professional lead workshops,” Earnestine said.

The program also offers a module related to children and health. “We have a module called ‘Train Up a Child’ that we just revised last year,” she said. “At first it was a module for parents to learn more about raising healthier children. Now we’ve added a component where we also work with the children to make healthier eating choices. We look at things like how much sugar is in a can of soda, and the calories in a standard fast food meal. We try to get them to think differently about food and food choices.”

Last year the Association launched, “Choose to Live: Sisters Strong Together,” a program designed to help African American women take charge of their health. “It’s getting fantastic reviews,” said Earnestine. “We’re working with the Black BeautyShop Health Foundation to put this program in beauty salons across the country, and we’re looking forward to a big year.”

The Association is also working on an educational series to address complications often associated with diabetes. “At this point it’s a series of two, where we discuss neuropathy and nephropathy,” she said. We’re also looking to expand the series to address retinopathy.”

The variety of information available through these programs and the fact that, when combined, they address so many aspects of living with diabetes is just terrific. My thanks to Earnestine for the time she took to share the Association’s programs designed for the African American community.

All the best,

Laura K.

Disclosure: Earnestine Walker received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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  1. blackbeautyshop
    March 30th, 2013, 2:56 PM

    Dear Laura,

    Great Article on the collaboration of the American Diabetes Association and the Black BeautyShop Health Initiative. The program that is linked in the article is incorrect and should be listed as the Black BeautyShop Health Foundation at http://www.blackbeautyshop.org as we are working with ADA and have developed the Black BeautyShop Health Initiative.

    If the link and name could be corrected, that would be great.

    Thanks so much,
    Black BeautyShop Health Foundation

    1. Laura
      April 1st, 2013, 11:00 AM

      Thank you for providing the correct name and link! This post is now updated. Best, Laura K

  2. TrishMendoza
    February 24th, 2013, 10:38 AM

    Our local ADA chapter is a tireless promoter of Project POWER! I served last year as co-chair of the Project POWER Committee, but it was truly the folks in the chapter office who kept the program on track and growing. Volunteer healthcare professionals, church leaders, congregants, and ADA staff all worked as a team and we are happy to report nearly 900 individuals participated! I can’t wait for our first PP committee meeting so we can grow the program in 2013.

    Trish Mendoza
    Community Health Liaison
    San Antonio, TX

    1. Laura
      February 26th, 2013, 12:14 PM

      Hi Trish, it’s great to hear of the success of the program in your area. Thank you for sharing! Best, Laura