US health agancies start curriculum to fight type 2 diabetes among American Indian youth

In an attempt to fight type 2 diabetes among American Indian youths, UNLV researchers has initiated K-12 diabetes curriculum. The curriculum, named after “Health is Life in Balance” aims the tribal schools and schools with large American Indian/Alaska Native populations. The curriculum blends the science of diabetes with Native cultural teachings.

The curriculum is a result of the Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools (DETS) program, comprised of individuals with knowledge in public health, research, science, education, and cultural advisors from across the country. Their commitment to designing the DETS curriculum was part of a seven-year effort coordinated by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Service and eight Tribal Colleges and Universities.

The curriculum aligns with national science, health and social studies education standards and serves as a supplement to current science, health and social studies lessons. Specific goals of the curriculum include increasing the understanding of health, diabetes and the effects (indirect and direct) of scientific research within a cultural framework; and elevating interest in science and health professions among American Indian youth by stressing involvement through lessons built around Native health professionals as role models.

More than 1,500 students from tribal schools and public schools in 14 states nationwide tested the curriculum in 2007. Evaluation feedback showed gains in pre-to-post test knowledge for elementary, middle and high school levels. The curriculum will be distributed nationwide to tribal schools or schools with a high concentration of American Indian students.

Dr. Carolee Dodge-Francis, director of UNLV’s American Indian Research and Education Center and member of the project since its inception said,

“To make diabetes education reflective of Native youth, programs need to embody the depth of cultural contributions among our people and the relationship to scientific discovery. Tribal culture and knowing encompasses our way of living informed by past and recent history, language, politics and the environment, all of which need to be integrated into community health and science education.”

Source: Medical News Today

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