The Cherokee Nation Diabetes Prevention Program recently received high marks in its quarterly update, taking top spots in participant recruitment and retention.
The initiative has been federally funded by the Indians Competitive Grant Program since 2004 and aims to prevent diabetes in tribal communities. Since starting the program, the tribe has recruited 220 participants, successfully retaining 164 of them.
“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,” said Cherokee Nation Diabetes Prevention Coordinator Tonya Wapskineh. “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."
Cherokee Nation’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps citizens diagnosed with prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose with diabetes. Participants are provided with a life coach who helps them reach their weight loss goal, tools and incentives to keep participants active and healthy, free check-ups, and educational classes on eating healthy, losing weight and physical activity.
Louise Maxey, a participant since 2008, said she 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.”
Maxey said she has stuck with the program through the years because it keeps her motivated.
“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 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 email@example.com.