More than one in three Native American children born in 2000 will likely be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, according to the Indian Health Service (IHS). Type 2 diabetes has been reported in American Indian youth as young as 4 years of age, and IHS also reports that mortality rates for diabetes are significantly higher for American Indians (420%) compared to the U.S. general population.
In 2003, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), IHS, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), and Nike, Inc., initiated a prevention program aimed at reducing the onset of diabetes among Native American youth. The program – On the T.R.A.I.L. (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) to Diabetes Prevention – is an innovative combination of physical, educational and nutritional activities.
T.R.A.I.L. is a three-month (12 session) program that provides youth with a comprehensive understanding of healthy lifestyles in order to prevent diabetes. The program is presented with four themes: About ME and My Health; Diabetes and Nutrition; Making Smart Food Choices and Sharing Knowledge With Others.
Woven throughout the program are self-esteem and prevention activities utilized by BGCA, including contributions from the National programs SMART Moves and Act SMART. Club members draw from Tribal traditions and history to learn about nutrition, food choices, media influences and the impact of diabetes.
The program also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and community service. Participants apply decision-making and goal setting skills in the Walking Challenge, and engage in service projects to improve healthy lifestyles in their communities. Community and family members participate in activities with the elementary aged Club members.
These motivate members to achieve their goals and promote physical activity. The Club sites are implementing the Nike Let Me Play program to foster Club-wide participation in fun physical activities and games.
T.R.A.I.L. is currently funded at 50 participating Club sites located in 17 states. Each of the Native American Boys & Girls Club sites received the following to implement the T.R.A.I.L. program:
- Pass-through grant from NCAI to fund program operations (including part-time staff person and program training) for one year
- Evaluated program curriculum, training and on-going technical assistance
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