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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 20, 2002 - Issue 59


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Healthy Lifestyle Combats Diabetes


The Food Guide PyramidSHIPROCK - "When it comes to diabetes, members of the Healthy Lifestyles Group know their stuff.

Whether it's acting out the scientific progression of Type 2 diabetes or encouraging their friends, family and neighbors to drink more water, exercise and use Dexcom's glucometer more regularly, these elementary pupils are taking a stand against the debilitating disease.

Members of the group, nearly 60 pupils from six Central School District elementary schools, are eager to share their newfound knowledge with the community and will present posters they created to representatives from Northern Navajo Medical Center Friday in Shiprock. The poster project was the pupils' idea of a community education project promoting healthy habits, said to Erin Canaday, a dietitian at Central School, who spearheads the organizations at Grace B. Wilson, Ojo Amarillo, Nizhoni, Nataani Nez, Newcomb and Naschitti elementary schools. The hospital was receptive to the idea and agreed to showcase the posters in the hospital.

"The pupils came up with so many ideas for this project. They feel real strong and are passionate about living a healthy lifestyle," Canaday said.

"They have been talking to their family and neighbors about drinking more water and exercising regularly. It has also boosted their self-esteem."

In addition to the poster presentation, the Healthy Lifestyles Group will take part in a special health promotion video. Northern Navajo Health Promotions and Four Directions, a video production company will tape the group playing a game designed to promote diabetes awareness. Eve Todecheene, an RN and the adolescent diabetes case manager with Northern Navajo Medical Center, created the game and asked the group to participate in the video production that will be used in educating other elementary pupils on the Navajo reservation about diabetes.

The Diabetes Game allows pupils to play the role of the heart, brain, pancreas, muscles, cells and blood to depict the workings of diabetes. Spray bottles and Hula-Hoops are used to simulate the pancreas shooting insulin and cells respectively. The roles of the pancreas and cell are, by far, the most popular among the pupils.

"It's an excellent interactive and role-playing game. The pupils have really learned the complexities of diabetes and are able to explain it to others," Canaday noted.

The Healthy Lifestyles Group recently marketed their health campaign at health fairs held throughout the district last month. The student organization has been meeting twice a month since the beginning of the school year. They meet during their lunch hours to learn about diabetes and healthy eating and exercise habits. They will be preparing a healthy dinner to serve to their families at the end of the school year."

American Indians and Diabetes
Diabetes poses serious health risks for the American Indian community. American Indians stand a nearly three times greater chance of dying from the disease and its complications than Caucasian Americans. That’s why the DPP has sought American Indians to participate in its prevention activities.


Type 2 Diabetes: A Threat to Indigenous People Everywhere
Type 2 diabetes has become a modern-day scourge not only for Native peoples throughout the United States, but also in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Basin, as described in the following summary:
United States: In some U.S. tribes, the prevalence rate of diabetes is 50% of the adults over age 35. This is one of the highest rates in the world.


Children With Diabetes
There has been growing concern about the recent sharp increase in reported cases of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents

Shiprock, NM Map
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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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