The Special Diabetes Program for Indians Diabetes Prevention Demonstration Project at Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome is located in northwest Alaska. This program is in an isolated community that can be reached only by air. Program staff include a project coordinator, several educators and lifestyle coaches, and a data coordinator/recruiter.
Cultural and traditional values, such as hunting, fishing, gathering, and enjoying food, are encouraged throughout the entire timeline of the program. Staff members use unique cultural approaches and have adapted the DPP Lifestyle Balance Program curriculum to make the program more culturally relevant and sensitive to participants. For example, they provide nutritional information on regionally specific foods and encourage healthy changes that fit within the traditional lifestyle and subsistence living of the participants, such as hunting, fishing, berry picking, and Eskimo dancing.
- Staff attribute the program’s success to the increased awareness and level of understanding regarding healthy choices and lifestyle changes the participants have reached. Program participants also show a strong willingness to continue toward their healthy lifestyle goals despite setbacks, such as choosing unhealthy foods or lack of exercise.
- The program’s strong community awareness campaign has also been key to its success. Staff work with 15 different villages and continuously hear from community members, including local children and youth, that they understand and are more aware of and interested in diabetes and its prevention. The program has created an expanded awareness through health fairs, written educational materials, presentations at schools and local events, and informal motivational gatherings.
- Staff have worked hard to successfully build a strong rapport with the program participants, which has helped keep participants motivated. The After-Core maintenance program has a high retention rate, with participants welcoming the opportunity to stay connected to the program and to receive support in maintaining their healthy lifestyle changes.