Faith Communities Making a Difference in Diabetes
Diabetes is serious, common and costly. But it can be managed, and type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Your faith community can make a difference in the lives of your members who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, and their families.
This guide shows you how you can make a difference by:
It has suggestions for ways your faith community can get involved in taking action on diabetes, and links to resources to help you get started.
Use the activities and resources in this guide to start making a difference in diabetes for your faith community.
Raise Awareness about Diabetes
As a trusted leader in your community, you can bring attention to the issue of diabetes. People may not understand their risk for diabetes. Some people may not believe that there is anything they can do to lower their chances of getting diabetes. Help your members get the facts and motivate them to start making changes to take care of their health.
Talk with your members about diabetes. Include messages in communications with members. For example, newsletters, bulletins, sermons or lessons, and announcements.
Get involved in diabetes awareness activities. Organizations like the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) regularly sponsor campaigns to raise awareness of diabetes. These organizations provide tools and resources to help you spread the word about diabetes among your members and in your community.
Participate in community coalitions that address diabetes, obesity and other health issues. Participating in coalitions is a way to bring resources to your members and help make a difference in the community. Check with local community-based organizations, your state and local health departments, and health care organizations for coalitions that are active in your community.
Provide diabetes prevention and management resources. Provide a table or bulletin board with trustworthy, easy-to-read information about diabetes.
Click the links below for resources you can give people who are at risk for diabetes or who have diabetes.
Resources for People at Risk for Diabetes
Resources for People with Diabetes
Resources to help you with Outreach and Promotion
Conduct Diabetes Prevention and Management Activities
Simply knowing more about diabetes is not enough to help a person prevent or manage the disease. Your members must also learn skills that help them put knowledge into action. They need support to commit to lifestyle changes like losing weight, making healthy food choices and being more physically active. People with diabetes and their families also need social and emotional support to help them cope with the challenges of living with the condition.
Host diabetes prevention and management activities at your house of worship. Partner with community based organizations or health care organizations to provide educational activities at your place of worship.
Develop your own ongoing health promotion activities. You can hold workshops, cooking and physical activity classes. Organize teams to participate in community walk-a-thons and runs. If you do not already have an organized health program, think about starting one to plan ongoing activities for your members.
Develop support groups for people with diabetes and their families. The emotional side of dealing with a disease like diabetes is often overlooked. People with experience in providing pastoral care can lead support groups for people with diabetes and their family members. Peer counselors can also learn to lead support groups.
Click the links below for resources you can use to teach your members about diabetes.
Diabetes Prevention Resources
Diabetes Management Resources
Create a Healthy Environment for Your Members
Creating a healthy environment means giving people a chance to make healthy choices. It is one of the most important things you can do to support your members who are trying to make changes. It helps everyone by making the healthy choice the easy choice.
Make sure there are healthy choices whenever food is served. Healthy choices include fruits and vegetables, and foods that are low in added sodium and fat, and high in fiber. Make sure people can choose water instead of drinks with lots of sugar like punch or non-diet soda pop. Offer children water instead of sugary drinks.
Include healthy options in your outreach programs. Suggest healthy donations people can offer to your food pantry, meal and snack programs for children, seniors, and sick and shut-in programs.
During long meetings and events, make sure there are physical activity breaks that encourage people to move around. Make active games a part of picnics, celebrations and other gatherings.
Offer your building and grounds for physical activity programs. You can host walking clubs and aerobics, dance, stretching, and chair exercise classes.
Include physical activity in your youth programs. Promote your physical activity programs to the whole community.
Develop church policies about healthy foods and drinks, and physical activity. Formal polices show your commitment to health and help members understand what they should be serving.
Create a garden or partner with a local farmer’s market. A garden is good way for members to get some physical activity and provide vegetables to the community.
Click the links below to for resources to help you create a healthy environment.
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The National Diabetes Education Program provides many other free resources to help faith communities and community organizations work with their members to prevent or manage diabetes.