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Feria de Salud: Raising Diabetes Awareness in Hispanic Communities

Jesse De La Cruz on health fairs for at-risk communities

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US DiabetesLaura Kolodjeski

I love compiling our Events Calendar and seeing a variety of events with the common goal of raising awareness about diabetes, from camps and fundraisers to sports clinics and more. An event recently listed on our calendar piqued my interest, the Feria de Salud, so I wanted to dig a little deeper and learn more about this event. I turned to Jesse De La Cruz of the American Diabetes Association for more information.

Jesse is the Director of Community Programs for the Bay Area chapter of the Association. For the past 10 years, he has helped to develop and facilitate programs and events that increase awareness of and educate about diabetes among at-risk communities. One of those events is the annual Feria de Salud (which means “health fair” in Spanish), which will take place August 17-18 at the San Jose Flea Market. About 5,000 people are expected to attend this event over the course of the two days. Similar events are also hosted in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston and Corpus Christi.

Feria de Salud logoFeria de Salud is a free event geared toward Latino families who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and combines the festivities of a street fair with diabetes education. “There will be a central stage with entertainment, music and dancing as a physical activity,” said Jesse. “There’ll be some brief talks on diabetes, plus cooking and healthy eating demonstrations. While it’s a festive environment, we never lose the message of raising diabetes awareness. We hope that many of these people will go home and further educate themselves on diabetes.”

They will also offer free health screenings, including testing on glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index, plus foot and vision screenings. “We feel it’s important to offer these services to this at-risk community because often they can’t afford these important screenings otherwise,” he said.

The screenings offer participants the opportunity to get in touch with related healthcare professionals. “When people go through the screening process we will be able to set them up with a consultation,” he said. “For instance, if their blood sugar tests high, we can alert them to the fact that the number seems high and we can refer them over to a consultation table where there will be certified diabetes educators* and nurses that will be able to refer them to a clinic. Once they get a test at a clinic, they can confirm their risk for diabetes. That is a major benefit of this health fair.”

The Association strives to make the Feria a family-friendly event. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Families come in, with grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. There are also lots of children there. We offer entertainment for children, like clowns, face painting and a Children’s Zone. We do a variety of things to make this a good outing for families.”

The Association will also offer a smaller-scale free event called Diabetes Day on November 3 at the Seven Trees Community Center in San Jose. “We’ll have classrooms where diabetes experts will speak about specific diabetes-related topics such as vision care, foot care and nerve damage,” he said. “It’s a smaller venue for a smaller audience with more in-depth education. A strong mix of Asian and Latino families attend that event.”

While he does not have a family history of diabetes, Jesse realizes that doesn’t mean he isn’t at risk. “I could be the first in my family to develop diabetes,” he said. “Therefore, all of what I’m doing now is geared towards not only helping myself, but helping others to recognize the signs of diabetes, how to try to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes as well as how to manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I guess you could say I’m a crusader against diabetes.”

I applaud Jesse’s passion and dedication to developing programs that aim to make a difference in his community. I also love the idea of a street fair combined with a health fair – a chance to have fun while learning something valuable. My thanks to him for sharing his insights into these events.

All the best,

Laura K.

Disclosure: Jesse De La Cruz 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.

*Certified Diabetes Educator is a certification mark owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

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