From 1990 to 2009 the incidence of type 2 diabetes in American Indian/Alaska Native youth increased by 110%, 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 1.6 times higher for American Indians 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 type 2 diabetes among Native 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 12 chapter program that provides youth with a comprehensive understanding of healthy lifestyles in order to prevent type 2 diabetes. The program is presented with four themes: About Me, My Health, & Being Part of a Team; Healthy Eating; Making Smart Food Choices and My Healthy Community.
Woven throughout the program are self-esteem and prevention activities utilized by BGCA, including contributions from national evidence-based programs such as SMART Moves. Club members draw from Native traditions and history to learn about nutrition, food choices, media influences and the impact of type 2 diabetes.
The program also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and community service. Participants apply decision-making and goal setting skills in the Physical Activity Challenges, 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 SPARK Physical Education and Nike Let Me Play programs to foster Club-wide participation in fun physical activities and games for 60 minutes every day.
T.R.A.I.L. is currently funded at 55 participating Club sites located in 18 states. Each of the Native Boys & Girls Club sites received the following to implement the T.R.A.I.L. program:
- A grant to fund program operations, including a part-time staff person and program training for one year.
- Evaluated program curriculum, training, and on-going technical assistance.
- Access to the SPARK Afterschool Physical Activity Program.
Read more about On the T.R.A.I.L. to Diabetes Prevention Program Continued Success!
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