Many faith traditions teach that caring for the body and guarding one’s health are one of life’s highest priorities. Despite this commitment, studies have shown that clergy and other faith leaders suffer from poor health and chronic illnesses, including diabetes. 

This is why the IFLC, along with the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and the Southeast Michigan Hospital Collaborative, are seeking clergy and faith leaders in southeast Michigan to partake in a one year, 22-hour long Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) specially tailored for faith leaders. This special program is at no cost to clergy. To see if you qualify, or to learn more about prediabetes to share with your congregation, contact Lisa Mason at 586-747-7793 or lmason@gdahc.org

“By the selfless nature of their calling, it has always been a challenge for clergy to take care of themselves,” said Rev. Stancy Adams, IFLC president. “But in the age of a Coronavirus pandemic, there is an even greater urgency that faith leaders take steps now to guard the health of their congregants. They can lead by example, making healthy life choices themselves. The DPP for faith leaders is a great resource that has been made available to them this summer.”

Through this outreach, we aim to educate clergy and their congregants on the importance of learning about prediabetes, how to screen for it, and prevent diabetes through participation in DPP. In fact, studies show that participation in DPP reduces the risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

“Everyone knows diabetes is a pretty challenging condition. Historically, our healthcare system has had many answers to treat it,” said Lisa Mason, Vice President of Program Partnerships for GDAHC and member of the IFLC healthcare committee. “But what if we can educate a population to prevent it from ever happening in the first place?  This is a new way our healthcare system is thinking.”

DPP is approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifteen years of research has shown that DPP participants reduce their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. 

The challenge, though, is getting the word out to at-risk people that they may have prediabetes so they can be tested. According to statistics, 86 million Americans have prediabetes, but eight out of 10 of them do not know they have this diagnosable condition.  Down the road, this could lead to further complications, especially in the age of Coronavirus. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus.

Statistically, Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted African American and Latino communities; this is due at least in part to the unfortunate, lack of access to preventative healthcare as well as underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes, which also has a higher incidence in these populations. 

The DPP workshop for faith leaders is a year-long commitment. The initial 22-hour coursework is completed in 16 weeks. Then, participants come to classes twice a month for the remainder of the year. Classes will be held either through online conferencing, or, when pandemic conditions permit, in person. 

Classes offer tips and ways to be physically active, how to eat healthfully and lose body fat, and how to manage stress. Participants will also receive peer and professional support during the workshop.  

For detailed information on the class and how to sign up, follow the link to view and download the flyer. 

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