UWinnipeg’s Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program

Rose Street + Nancy Baker

Brandy-Rose Street + Nancy Baker

UWinnipeg’s Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program is in its second successful year. Since its inception in 2013, over 120 students have participated in the program designed to improve their type 2 diabetes knowledge and understanding of the simple, everyday things they can do to improve their health and food choices. Participants range from grade 9 to 12 and are of Aboriginal, First Nations, Hispanic, Asian, African and South Asian populations — all groups that are generally at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). T2DM is increasing among Canadian youth, and national surveillance has revealed ethnic minorities and Manitoban youth are disproportionately affected.

ultimate frisbee

ultimate frisbee

“We are proud to offer the Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program to Manitoban youth who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” says Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy & Sponsorships, Sun Life Financial. “We recognize the importance of investing in initiatives that specifically target this community in an effort to increase their knowledge about type 2 diabetes and the steps they can take to prevent it.”

The Sun Life Financial Diabetes Awareness and Education Program provides hands-on, practical education for inner-city youth in Manitoba. The program helps provide them with the tools they need to reduce their risk of developing T2DM.  This free, eight-week program combines education focused on healthy eating and active living and runs twice per week during the school year, to encourage at-risk youth to make healthier choices and curb the growing incidence of T2DM.

“I really enjoy the Sun Life Diabetes Program at UWinnipeg,” expressed Brandy-Rose Street, a grade 12 participant from Elmwood High School. “Learning about diabetes has always been an interest to me because my older brother has diabetes and Down’s Syndrome, so learning more about what is good for him and my family and I is very exciting.  I’ve learned many things in this program, like how to finally read labels and understand what everything means.”

“The Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program has been an awesome opportunity for 24 of our students at Elmwood High School” said Nancy Baker, Elmwood High School’s Physical & Health Education teacher. “New games like, Omnikin and Sabakiball and other games and activities like Ultimate and Flickerball have provided students with the necessary physical activity to keep them healthy and fit.  The education provided on nutrition, and more specifically nutrition to help prevent type 2 diabetes is invaluable to this age group. Learning how to properly chop vegetables, mix ingredients, and tasting some things outside of their comfort zone has been awesome to watch (and taste). The time and effort put in to plan and organize this program doesn’t go unnoticed, and Elmwood is privileged to be part of the program.”

The next session begins in February 2016. For more information on the program or how your school can participate please contact Colette Hansen, Program Coordinator, co.hansen@uwinnipeg.ca or call 204-988-7638.

All photos courtesy of UWinnipeg

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