Diabetes program aims to better native health

Participants of the Shining Mountain Diabetes education class learn how to do some “in-chair” warm-ups. The education class was held at the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Trennie Collins|The Southern Ute Drum

November is American Diabetes Month, and the Shining Mountain Diabetes Program just finished up fall classes last week. Though the name of the program insinuates the program is only for diabetes, the program offers far more to the native community, Deanna Frost, program coordinator said.

“We are trying to make the [native] community more aware of the program and let them know that we are not just for diabetes, but we’re here for health and diet as well,” Frost said.

Services provided by the program include: fitness assessments, exercise programs, foot exams, home visits, nutrition education, wellness, diabetes education, and diabetes prevention. The diabetes program also offers a three-month SunUte pass to their patients, which includes time with a personal trainer, Frost said.

It’s important that local natives know the program is grant funded and is open to all natives, Frost said.

“We are not tribally funded, and in order for us to stay functioning we have to have this grant. It is important that people come see us,” she said.

Any natives interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle can visit the Shining Mountain Diabetes Program for assistance.

“We do meal plans and show people healthy meals they can make for themselves,” Shawmarie Tso, special patient coordinator said. “We want people to know we are here for them to talk to, and we are open for walk-ins.”

Tso, a licensed practical nurse, is available to perform foot examinations and to talk with patients about their medications, she said.

The diabetes program collaborates regularly with the SunUte Community Center, Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club, CHR and the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy.

“We like to start educating the youth and get the youth exercising … [Diabetes] diagnosis is starting young, it’s no longer an adult disease,” Frost said. “Once you are diagnosed, you have it your whole life.”

Which is why the program not only focuses on managing the disease, but also on prevention, Frost said.

The diabetes program participates in many walks for health around the native community. The two main walks the program is involved in are the “Walking for Healthier Nations” and the “Just Move It” walks.

The next walk the program will be working on is this year’s Leonard C. Burch Walk Wednesday, Dec. 10. Through collaboration with SunUte the program will be providing healthy snacks to LCB Walk participants, Frost said.

Though the next wellness classes will not be until the spring, the Shining Mountain Diabetes Program is available to answer any questions the native community may have.

Program Coordinator, Deanna Frost can be reached at 970-563-4741.

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