The Special Diabetes Program for Indians Healthy Heart Demonstration Project at the Northwest Indian Health Board in Bellingham, Washington, serves four tribes within a 75 mile radius: Lummi Indian Nation, Nooksack Tribe of Indians, Swinomish Tribal Community, and Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. Program staff include a project director, a project coordinator, case managers, a consultant dietitian, a physical activity specialist, and a data manager.
The program encourages healthy competition among the four tribes through the Health Board’s Annual Community Fitness Challenge. During the fitness challenge, over 600 tribal members pledge to be active and keep track of their physical activity over an eight-week period. Each year, the number of participants and the amount of physical activity increases.
The program also hired a local community member to act as a consultant to set up focus groups for the tribes to find out what their main issues and challenges were for managing diabetes. From these focus groups, a social marketing campaign was developed using the tribal tradition of canoe paddling to encourage teamwork and unity in managing diabetes.
- Program staff successfully work with four distinct tribes spread over a large geographic area to promote diabetes self-care, case management, and lifestyle change.
- Program staff attribute the program’s success to the relationships formed between the case managers and the participants.
- Case managers work with participants during monthly home, clinic, or office visits to provide advice, guidance, and instruction on how to incorporate healthy habits into busy lifestyles and to reinforce information from the Honoring the Gift of Heart Health Curriculum about exercise and nutrition.