The Cherokee Nation Diabetes Prevention Program has successfully retained 164 of 220 recruited members to help prevent the onset of diabetes in tribal citizens diagnosed as prediabetic, surpassing the number of current participants of all other diabetes prevention programs in the country funded by the federal Indians Competitive Grant Program.
“I was excited to see that our recruitment and retention numbers were on the rise, but it blew my mind when I realized that our program has the most number of current participants across the Nation and the highest retention rate among original grantees,” Tonya Wapskineh, the program's coordinator, said in a statement. “I think we are at the forefront of showing that we can make a difference in Indian country and I see us surpassing our goals and making an even greater impact in our Cherokee people, homes and communities."
The initiative, funded by the Indians Competitive Grant Program since 2004, caters to American Indians age 18 and older with prediabetes who receive medical care at a Cherokee Nation clinic or hospital. Prediabetes is marked by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that are not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes but are at risk of developing it over time.
A life coach works with participants to help them reach their weight loss goal. In addition, the program equips its members with tools and incentives to keep them active and healthy, such as free check-ups, and educational classes on eating healthy, losing weight and physical activity.
Louise Maxey, a participant since 2008, turned to the program to lose weight and change her lifestyle after being diagnosed with prediabetes. “I was getting pretty big and that’s when I decided to join,” said Maxey. “It changed my life; I learned to read food labels, count calories and exercise. I lost 60 pounds in a year and now I am able to play with my grandkids.”
For years, Maxey has remained committed to the program, which motivates her to keep her health on track. “I learn new things all of the time, and that’s why I’ve stuck with it. The meetings and challenges help remind you that you are worth it,” said Maxey.
The Diabetes Prevention Program offers classes in Adair, Mayes, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Muskogee and Delaware County in Oklahoma for interested community members who have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Participants must also be a member of a federally recognized tribe and be 18 or older. For more information about Cherokee Nation’s Diabetes Prevention Program or to become a participant visit, Cherokee.org or contact Wapskineh at 918-453-5776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.