Diabetes Forecast

Dancing—and Thriving

ADA Feria festivals spread the word about diabetes

Zela Daniel, RN, is well aware of the diabetes crisis and its impact on Latino families like her own. Her grandmother was not even 50 years old when she died from complications of type 1 diabetes. Four of Daniel's eight uncles have type 2 diabetes; one of her uncles has had four toes amputated as a result.

Unfortunately, the rate of diabetes in Hispanics is almost double that in non-Hispanic whites. To battle the epidemic in the Dallas area, Daniel, a registered nurse in Garland, Texas, decided to team up with her local ADA office to reach out to the Hispanic community by working on a festival called Feria de Salud Por Tu Familia (Festival of Health For Your Family).

"My first pregnancy, my daughter weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces, so I know I'm at very high risk" for developing diabetes, Daniel says. "And we have a huge epidemic of obese children at risk for type 2 diabetes. If we don't educate these parents, we are going to have a lot of problems in the future."

At Feria de Salud, Latin music, dancing, cooking demonstrations, games, and other activities draw in families from within and outside the community. Ferias have been hosted in Texas, New York, California, and Florida; 11 are scheduled for 2008. The inaugural Dallas Feria last syear brought in 2,500 people, and coordinators are aiming for at least 4,000 this time around.

Feria is part of the American Diabetes Association's broader national outreach program, Por Tu Familia, which includes many more initiatives and programs specially tailored to the Latino community, including the Spanish language Web site www.portufamilia.org, and bilingual educational materials provided by the ADA National Call Center, including the brochure "What Can I Eat?" as well as a "Latin Flavor in the Kitchen" recipe sampler. Under Por Tu Familia, ADA also supports diabetes research specific to Latinos, and addresses health disparity issues through the Latino Diabetes Action Council. Por Tu Familia coordinates events in addition to Feria, with topics ranging from healthy Latin eating to convenient ways to exercise.

"One of the modules for Por Tu Familia is 'Everybody Dance for Your Health,'" Daniel says, "so we taught [people at Feria] how to dance and how that can become an exercise that you can do at home." Feria also provides healthy eating tips through cooking demonstrations and the ADA program "Health and Flavor in the Latino Kitchen." There's a cardiovascular health workshop, "With All My Heart," and a Kids' Zone where children and their families learn about choosing healthy meals at school and healthy snacks during the day. (There's face painting and games, too.) Other services for adults include diabetes risk testing, vision screenings, and foot exams.

This year's Feria will be Daniel's second—but she began working with ADA diabetes education programs in her school five years ago. She now serves as a volunteer on the Association's National Latino Subcommittee. "In-school education partnering with ADA, and education through the ADA program modules, has made people aware of a healthy lifestyle and how they can do it," Daniel says. "It has decreased obesity in children in the groups we work in."

Daniel hopes to see Feria grow in her own community and in others', she says: "I believe that education is prevention."

Fun at Feria

Find an upcoming festival near you:

New York Sept. 13, St. Mary's Park, South Bronx
Laredo, Texas Sept. 20, location TBD
San Jose, Calif. Sept. 21, National Hispanic University
Dallas Sept. 27, Samuell-Grand Park
Miami Sept. 27, Tropical Park
McAllen, Texas Nov. 8, Edinburg Activity Center and Park
Los Angeles Nov. 9, Olvera Street

Call your local ADA office for more information.



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