A Certified Diabetes Educator from Twin County Regional Healthcare (TCRH), it didn’t take Tracy Farmer long to demonstrate to Woodlawn School students what a problem the disease has become in America.
Almost every student in a P.E. class at the school raised their hand when Farmer asked if they knew someone who has diabetes. To further demonstrate her point, Farmer had every third person in the class stand up.
“You see all the people standing up? One of every three people in this classroom will have diabetes in their lifetime if we don’t change the way we eat and exercise in America,” Farmer told the class of sixth and seventh graders.
Farmer’s presentation was part of an outreach initiative through TCRH to reach middle school students across the Twin Counties about the prevention of Type II Diabetes. Along with Monica Dolinger from TCRH and Carrie Ayers from the TCRH Wellness Center in Galax, the trio visited every P.E. class at Woodlawn on Nov. 28. Similar presentations were also given to students at Galax Middle School and Independence Middle School.
“We try to reach that age group to let them know how important it is to stay active. They are old enough to understand at that age, and hopefully it is something they can learn and take back to their families,” Farmer said. “The whole reason we are doing this is November is Diabetes Awareness Month. We get them to do an activity and get them thinking about doing more activities. At the end we give them pamphlets to take home to their parents with information on Type II Diabetes.”
Farmer told students your pancreas makes insulin and helps break down sugars. When people have diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t do that correctly, she said, and they often have to take insulin. While there are different kinds of diabetes, she wanted to focus on Type II Diabetes, which typically happens during adulthood.
Farmer asked the group if they knew ways to prevent diabetes. One student answered eating fruits and vegetables is a good way to prevent the disease.
“That is a good answer. But also limiting the amount of soda you drink is another thing you can do to limit your chance of diabetes,” Farmer said. “Another thing is to stay active. A lot of times when you get out of high school you don’t exercise as much. Because of that our bodies get bigger and heavier and we are more prone to diabetes.”
One of the best ways to stay active is to dance, Farmer told Woodlawn students. At that point, she, Ayers and Dolinger led the group in a variety of dances. From there, she broke the students down into boys against girls, and the top two from each group were then elected for a “dance-off.” Winners of each dance-off were to compete at the end of the day in the “ultimate dance-off.”
“The school that participates with the dance program the most will get a plaque,” Farmer said of another competition between Woodlawn, Galax and Grayson middle schools. “Studies show by the time you guys are grown up, one-third of you could be diabetic. That is scary, which is why we want to stop it.”
TCRH welcomes everyone in the community to take advantage of a free session at the TCRH Wellness Center, located at 544-P East Stuart Drive in Galax. Call 236-5931 to find out more. Anyone wanting to know more about diabetes or Diabetes Education Programs offered through TCRH may call Tracie Vaughan at 238-3565.