We have all known a woman who has put her own needs behind those of others. For this reason, the theme for this May's National Women's Health Week-"It's your time!"-encourages women to make the time to address their own health and health risks. Among them is diabetes, a health condition that significantly affects minority women and can develop during pregnancy and lead to a lifetime of diabetes.
The Family Center's B-SWEL (Brooklyn Stay Well, Enjoy Life) Program, a diabetes awareness, prevention and control program addresses the epidemic of diabetes in Central Brooklyn, working with women, men and their families. Central Brooklyn has a largely underserved, minority population where poverty is widespread and access to medical care, exercise options and healthy food access are limited. Over 12 percent of residents report being diagnosed with diabetes, a rate that is 33 percent higher than New York City's average. Since 1995, diabetes deaths in our area have increased 42 percent. B-SWEL works to lower the rate of diabetes through individual and group activities, focusing on diet, exercise, self-monitoring and access to high quality medical care.
An integral component of the program is our effort to raise awareness of diabetes and personal risk through community-based diabetes screening. To date, the B-SWEL Program has screened over 1,200 people for diabetes risk in the community, finding close to 70 percent of them to be either pre-diabetic or diabetic. In addition to screening, we offer services like point of testing counseling with personalized feedback about diabetes risks, information about actions that can be taken to prevent or control diabetes, and referrals to health related providers and services. B-SWEL has engaged 88 percent of our participants from minority communities and provided referrals to our partner health clinic site, Community Healthcare Network, to over 200 people that were either uninsured or underinsured.
Our multidisciplinary team works with an additional 250 clients who receive individual and/or group based activities. Clients are offered a wide variety of workshops and information on healthy cooking, recipe modification and substitutions, nutrition, the Diabetes Prevention Program, Diabetes Self-Management Education, Taking charge of your ABCs, weight loss and support groups as well as opportunities to be active. We have formed a walking club that meets four times a week, rain or shine. Our dedicated walkers have moved their bodies the distance from New York City to Moscow and back again! Our walking club has been replicated with other partner agencies who have found it be a cost effective intervention to modify health risks.
B-SWEL also offers one-off workshops about topics of interest every month, the latest on Woman's Health. The workshop focused on bone health, the importance of mammograms, and reproductive health. Next month we will be holding a workshop focused on Men's Health, with topics that will include heart health and tips for getting blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
Being able to bring our services directly to clients and meet them where they are, working to improve their health markers and reduce their diabetes risk is a rewarding experience. B-SWEL has also served as a bridge in the community to bring people together, to support one another and to form lasting bonds that will improve their overall health and wellbeing.
"It's your time!" is great advice as there is no better time than today to address diabetes and make the choices that lead to a healthy life.
More information about The Family Center and all our services can be found at http://www.thefamilycenter.org/
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