Charito Bularzik, left, an education coordinator at DuPage Health Coalition, congratulates participants of the “Take Charge of Your Diabetes” class on earning their certificates of completion.
Written by Sonja Altmayer
Local nonprofit DuPage Health Coalition is holding free diabetes education workshops. Diabetes education workshops are not rare but ones that so effectively motivate their members to come to class are.
“Take Charge of Your Diabetes,” developed by Stanford University, is a six-week evidence-based workshop that helps people with Type 2 diabetes regain control of their lives.
Available to Access DuPage members with diabetes — as well as their family members — participants learn a variety of self-management tools such as healthy eating, stress management, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, medication management, and health literacy.
Diabetes is an expensive disease, especially when it goes untreated. By teaching people how to manage this chronic disease, “Take Charge of Your Diabetes,” can help reduce future health care costs. This program has resulted in improved health outcomes, higher quality of life, and reduced disease complications for many people.
Co-taught in Spanish by Charito Bularzik, an education coordinator at DuPage Health Coalition, and two DuPage County Health Department employees — Edgar Cantu, mental health therapist/counselor, and Stephanie Calvillo, health promotion specialist — “Tomando Control de Su Diabetes” is culturally relevant by reaching a linguistically isolated group.
Many other health classes are provided only in English, creating barriers to health literacy — an important part of understanding how to manage chronic health conditions.
Participants meet one night a week for six weeks, many coming straight from work. Every session, members create an action plan for the next week. Some people choose to focus on healthy eating, some on exercise, some on checking their blood sugar levels.
Participants spend the first 20 minutes sharing their progress on their action plans from the last session with their classmates. If they had success, the group celebrates.
If they had challenges, the group brainstorms ways to overcome these in the future. One of the more unexpected results of this class is the formation of friendships.
Last year, people started carpooling to class together, checking up with one another about how they were doing, and sharing new ways to address their health conditions with each other outside the classroom.
“Take Charge of Your Diabetes” participants have added financial challenges, often arriving in class with a previous history of taking lower doses of prescribed medications or even going without. Many participants are working to make ends meet for their families, and taking 2.5 hours out of their week can be a challenge. Recognizing the dedication it takes to be part of this class, members are given a gift card at the end of the 6-week class along with a certificate of completion.
This gift card to Walgreens or CVS equips participants to take what they learned in “Take Charge of Your Diabetes” outside of the classroom and regain control of their lives by purchasing necessary diabetic supplies.
Copays for supplies like metformin, blood sugar test strips, syringes, and insulin can get expensive- even in a program like Access DuPage. By empowering participants with the expertise to prevent further complications down the road, as well as some extra money to purchase necessary diabetic supplies, DuPage Health Coalition is eliminating some of the struggles that people with diabetes find themselves in.
“Take Charge of Your Diabetes” is the focus of DuPage Health Coalition’s #GivingTuesday #GivingHealth campaign this year. Giving Tuesday is on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, this year falling on Dec. 3. It’s a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — rather than a day of consumption, it’s a day to give back to causes and communities that people believe in.
DuPage Health Coalition is celebrating this #GivingTuesday by asking the community to help raise $3,000 — enough to provide essential diabetes supplies to all the “Take Charge of Your Diabetes” participants for the next calendar year.
For information on how to donate, visit www.accessdupage.org/donate-now/ or contact Karen Doyle, Director of Development & Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about “Take Charge of Your Diabetes,” contact Charito Bularzik at email@example.com.