Program to prevent diabetes among inner city youth under way

SunLife-eventWINNIPEG, MB The incidence of diabetes among Canadian youth ages 13-19 is three per 1,000. Among Manitoba children, diabetes occurs at a rate of over seven per 1,000 — making the disease a serious public health issue in the province. The UWinnipeg Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program began this week to help combat the disease through preventative learning; the first participants are a cohort of 21 grade nine and 10 students from UWinnipeg’s Collegiate Model School.

“The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among specific populations of Canadian youth is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Nathan Hall, Program Coordinator. “Thanks to the generous gift from Sun Life Financial, we are confident that the practical hands-on nature of this program will have a profoundly positive impact on the youth taking part.”

A team of UWinnipeg researchers from the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Health will be examining this program and its’ participants through a variety of different studies. Specifically, they will be conducting research related to changes in the participants’ understanding, attitudes and beliefs about personal health and how it can relate to Type 2 diabetes. Researchers will also observe students’ nutritional choices, physical fitness levels, and their amount and vigour of physical activity during certain program sessions.

The UWinnipeg Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program will primarily help youth in the inner city, between grades nine and 12. The eight-week program will bring youth to The University of Winnipeg twice a week to learn about diabetes, as well as healthy eating and active living – both key to preventing this disease. There are four separate sessions a year, to encourage at-risk youth to make healthier choices aimed at curbing the growing incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

The program was announced last spring when Sun Life Financial committed $100,320 to UWinnipeg in support of the pilot program. Today, Randy Colwell, Regional Vice-President, Sun Life Financial was on campus for the program launch and to present the cheque. Also in attendance* was Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg, Dr. Glen Bergeron, Associate Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology, UWinnipeg and Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology, UWinnipeg.

“We’re pleased to donate to this innovative program at The University of Winnipeg to make a difference in the lives of young people at risk of developing diabetes,” said Mary De Paoli, Executive Vice-President, Public & Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. “This donation fits perfectly with our focus on diabetes prevention and awareness, and our continued efforts to educate and empower Canadians to join us in preventing and managing this disease.”

*In alphabetical order

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2013, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $591 billion. For more information, please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to Editors: All figures in Canadian dollars.


Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7130, E:

Carmela Antolino, Communications Manager, Sun Life Financial

P: 416.408.7246, E:


Comments are closed.