Seeking ambassadorsPublished 7:58pm Thursday, August 15, 2013
The American Diabetes Association is looking for ambassadors to carry its message of diabetes prevention and management to their churches, families, friends and co-workers.
The association’s Project Power program, funded by a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, is a faith-based program targeting churches with mostly black congregations, because black people have an increased risk of getting diabetes. The program works through ambassadors, who are members of the churches that get trained in the program and then educate their fellow church members.
“This is the last ambassador training that we are scheduling that will be within the Obici Healthcare grant,” said Lawrence Lambert of the American Diabetes Association. “But we are continuing to look for churches within Suffolk that are interested in doing something about the diabetes epidemic.”
Suffolk has one of the highest rates of diabetes diagnoses and complications in the state. The statistics collected during the Project Power program were, therefore, not surprising.
“Thirty-three percent of the people that went through our program were diabetic,” Lambert said. “Another 20 percent were pre-diabetic, so 53 percent were in what I call the ‘diabetes river.’”
Statistics in the general population are much lower — about 8.9 percent statewide — but the numbers still show something needs to be done, Lambert said.
“We have a new urgency to try to reach as many churches as we can,” he said. “We have six that have started the program, but we are looking for four more to go through the modules.”
Ambassador training is coming up next Saturday, and people from churches that have not yet signed up for the program are needed.
“We are looking for people with a commitment to take the information from the American Diabetes association to their church, their workplace, their clubs and organizations,” Lambert said. “Its purpose is to celebrate their individual relationship with God or Jesus Christ and use it to get the strength to make changes.”
All participants in the program will receive free diabetes screenings at the beginning and end of the program so they can see how diet and lifestyle modifications change their risk.
“That right there is extremely valuable,” Lambert said. “You see where you are now, you go through the program and you get to see where you are after some modifications.”
The Project Power ambassador training will be held Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St. Interested parties should RSVP to Lambert at 424-6662, ext. 3277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An ambassador retreat will be held Aug. 31, where ambassadors will watch the documentary “Soul Food Junkies.”