Diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and lower -limb amputations, but people with diabetes can lower the occurrence of these and other diabetes complications by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids. HealthVisions program, "Empowering Fort Wayne Communities to Self-Manage Diabetes" is doing just that for the Black community through a grant from the Saint Joseph Community Health Foundation. The goal is to increase awareness, provide education on how to manage diabetes, and pilot data collection tools. The long term goal is to reduce diabetes related complications, and improve the quality of life of medically underserved African Americans living with diabetes in Allen County. Diabetes disproportionately affects the African American community.
The target audience includes African American adults 18 years of age and older from underserved families living with diabetes in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Executive Director, Renetta Williams and the Community Health Educators: Lillie Caldwell, DaVita Mitchell, Peggy Hayes, and Jomare Bowers-Mizzell, Project Coordinator were ready for the challenge. The first class was held on August 24th, 2010 at True Love Missionary Baptist Church with 14 participants enrolled. The church provided space and light snacks.
The class met once a week for 2 ½ hours for six weeks. First semester nursing students from Indiana –Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) came to two of the classes and took blood pressures at the start of class and after a relaxation tape. They were able to monitor and track blood pressure changes. Participants were encouraged to self track medications and results of health screenings by using a health guide book to record dates.
On September 28, 2010 we graduated 14 participants from the diabetes program. HealthVisions staff prepared food using diabetic recipes. All participants received a certificate and a small gift of appreciation for taking on the challenge to self-manage their diabetes and living a healthy life.
A second class was held on September 30th - November 4, 2010 at Turner Chapel A.M.E Church offering morning and evening classes. Fourteen (14) participants attended the classes, including the pastor. Chris Moore a Clinical Dietitian, from Parkview Hospital, presented a class on diabetes. All participants received certificates and celebrated with food using diabetic recipes. All classes received recipes of the food prepared. The participants are testing more, eating healthier food, exercising, taking better care of themselves and sharing their success with others