Trained peer educators funded with a grant from Health Plan of San Joaquin and Sierra Health Foundation have begun conducting a free series of classes at various locations in the community. Participants will learn about strategies to prevent diabetes and skills to improve their nutrition and physical activity that will help maintain their health and reduce their risks of Type 2 diabetes.
“They teach their friends, neighbors and families about Type 2 diabetes prevention,” health educator Rosaelena Menendez said.
Since statistics indicate that Hispanics and blacks are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, they are the main target groups of this project.
Menendez oversees the program, which has 11 trained peer educators throughout the county, including one in Lodi, and two more Lodi residents are going through the training process. Each has attended a class taught in both English and Spanish.
The peer educators may, in turn, be able to train others to talk about prevention including diet and exercise in their communities.
“It’s more viable when you have people in the community, respected leaders even. People are more receptive,” said Barb Alberson, Public Health Service Department deputy director of Policy and Planning. “We’re very concerned about the rate of diabetes here.”
Maria Rosado of Lodi WorkNet is facilitating the program in Lodi.
Menendez, who was hired by the county two years ago to reach out to Spanish-speaking residents, said she is already receiving positive feedback.
“Some people don’t even know that Type 2 diabetes is preventable,” she said.
She also visits community centers to distribute prevention information.