Class in Session
At ADA's Conferencia
In economically struggling areas of Orange County, Calif., many people—and many Latinos in particular—have limited access to diabetes education. People who lack health care may have local clinics to turn to, but those overburdened facilities can't provide all the information their patients need.
That's why the American Diabetes Association staff and volunteers in Santa Ana, Calif., host an education event every year entirely in Spanish, called Conferencia. The October event has been attended by 300 to 500 people in the Santa Ana area every year for the past 8 years. Other Conferencias are held in different locations around the United States each year.
A part of ADA's Por tu Familia program, Conferencia is built around workshops that teach the basics of diabetes management. And when it comes to teaching the basics, Heather Valdés-Speer, MPH, CDE, former Conferencia coordinator, longtime ADA volunteer, and member of ADA's National Latino Subcommittee, is an expert. Not only does her husband have type 2 and her daughter have type 1 diabetes, but Valdés-Speer also works for the Children's Hospital of Orange County Center for Diabetes Research and Education, where she educates children and families about diabetes. She knows there are more people in her community who need this help.
"A lot of these people don't have the consistency of care that other people have," Valdés-Speer explains. That's why they also come to Conferencia for services like foot exams and cooking demonstrations. ADA works with community partners, including local clinics, to conduct blood glucose screenings, too. And for those who already know they have diabetes, they leave the event better equipped to manage it.
"The more you know about how to take care of yourself with diabetes," she says, "the better health outcomes you will have."