Diabetes education among Latinos should start young


POSTED: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 3:18pm

UPDATED: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 7:37am

"Who likes dinosaurs?" asks the UTPA Health grad student to a class of fourth graders. Naturally, almost everyone raises their hands.

Today, fourth grade students at De Escandon Elementary in Edinburg are learning about diabetes.

"We chose fourth grade because we feel that students at that age level are responsible enough and at an age where they can absorb the message," said Doreen Garza, UTPA College of Health and Human Sciences, Border Health Office Executive Director.

The kids not only took a survey, but they also got to watch a quick video.

"It was geared toward their attention span. It doesn't move to fast, it doesn't move to slow. All of the higher order vocabulary, like pancreas for example, is spelled out with pictures and little graphics they can relate to," said Dr. Shawn Saladin, UTPA College of Health and Human Sciences Associate Dean.

"I think it was cool, because I never knew about diabetes before, like I am glad they came and I appreciate it," said Anastacia Aguilar, fourth grader.

But the movie wasn't the only piece of information given out. Students also took home a small coloring assignment and more importantly, a diabetes registry form to give to someone they know with diabetes.

And with the majority of students coming from Latino homes, health officials want the kids to know diabetes could be more prevalent within their families.

"We want them to learn that diabetes does not have to be apart of their future, and indeed type two diabetes can be prevented," said Garza.

Gabriel Tijerina, 9, said he plans to pass this message onto his parents.

"I am going to tell them how to prevent it, and I am going to tell them all the symptoms. And if they don't know, I am going to tell them to get a doctor to check them out," said Tijerina.

Lacks Furniture store made the SEEP program possible by donating $125 thousand. This money will be spread out over the next five years.

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