Monday, August 8, 2011


West Side residents participate in a Diabetes Education Workshop presented by Austin Peoples Action Center in their Nutrition Education Center. (Photo by Charles Smith)
 By James Williams

    It is estimated that 23.6 million Americans (or 7.8% of the population) have diabetes, with nearly 1/3 undiagnosed and untreated. It is believed that 479,141 Chicago residents are living with diabetes.
    Diabetes is one of the most costly health problems in the United States, running an average of $174 billion annually, including loss of productivity. Diabetes is also one of the deadliest diseases. More people die from complications of diabetes than from AIDS and breast cancer combined. Diabetes causes blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and results in amputations.

Donyall Garett, 12, is the poster child for APAC’s diabetes prevention & education campaign. He has lived with diabetes since he was 3 years old. (Photo by Charles Smith)
 Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease. It is associated with older age, obesity, physical inactivity, and ethnic background. Diabetes is more than twice as prevalent among African Americans as among Hispanics and Whites. Type 2 Diabetes is nearing epidemic levels due to the increased number of older Americans and the growing rate of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, and is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
    Austin Peoples Action Center is calling its outreach program Wake Up & Face The Truth! It is geared toward diabetes awareness, education, and prevention. The program is dedicated to the memory of APAC CEO Cynthia Williams’ brother Birchie, who died at age 45 from complications of diabetes. The campaign is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The goal is to target diabetes risk factors with prevention education and treatment.

With APAC CEO Cynthia Williams, Donyall Garett emphasizes that good nutrition – including fresh fruits & vegetables – are vital to successfully managing his diabetes. (Photo by Charles Smith)
 APAC is offering to hold workshops and seminars for community organizations, churches, sororities & fraternities, schools, and youth groups. All workshops are facilitated by licensed medical professionals, including Project Director Dr. Kara Davis, a practicing physician, member of the American Diabetes Association Executive Council, author of Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss: A 50-Day Renewal of Body, Mind and Spirit, and author of The Weigh of Life Journal.

APAC offers cooking classes every Thursday under the direction of Registered Dietician Gwendolyn Franklin, teaching diabetics and non-diabetics how to prepare healthy, nutritious & balanced meals. (Photo by Charles Smith)
Project Coordinator is Priscilla Williams, RN, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and American Diabetes Association Executive Council. She has a 12-year-old son who has been living with juvenile diabetes since age 3.
    The Outreach/Trainer is Patricia Cattenhead, licensed Paramedic who has worked in the University of Chicago Emergency Room for many years. APAC is offering cooking classes every Thursday, taught by Gwendolyn Franklin, Clinical Dietician at West Suburban Medical Center, showing how to prepare healthful, nutritious and balanced meals for diabetics and everyone.
    The workshops are presented as interactive open lectures or PowerPoint presentations followed by Q & A. APAC provides literature and glucose screenings. Organizations interested in scheduling workshops should contact Priscilla Williams at 708/890-6781 or Patricia Cattenhead at 708/372-6184. People wishing to learn more about diabetes or the cooking classes may call the Austin Peoples Action Center at 773/921-2121.

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