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Local ADA branch tries to reach all communities on diabetes

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No culture or socioeconomic group is immune to diabetes, so the San Diego branch of the American Diabetes Association has programs designed to reach everyone from the local chapters of major corporations, to underserved Latino communities.

Ana Gonzalez-Seda, associate director of the local ADA branch, said that her organization has been making a push for about four years to extend outreach into the Latino community, which she said is genetically predisposed to diabetes, but is often under-educated about the disease.

But the ADA is also working with local companies, some of them with some of the best educated employees in the world, to teach them about ways to prevent the disease, and help raise funding for research.

Earlier this month, the local ADA held a conference called Diabetes from Head to Toe/Diabetes de los Pies a la Cabeza, which presented a series of workshops in Spanish so caregivers and stakeholders in the Latino community could pass on information about the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Throughout the year, the ADA hosts a series of events under the program Por tu Familia (for your family), which encourage education about diabetes through hallmarks of Latin culture, like dancing, cooking, and religious gatherings.

"(We're doing this) just given the high numbers of the Latino community who are predisposed to diabetes, and also because we're so close to the US Mexico border," Gonzalez said of these programs.

While diabetes does adversely affect minority communities in the United States, it can be found everywhere. One of the board members at the local branch of Sony has it in his family, and helped forge a relationship between the electronics giant and the ADA.

Kim Rohr, community affairs specialist, said that Sony employees have participated in walks to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and has hosted lunchtime talks from ADA representatives who talk about lifestyle changes employees can make to prevent contracting the disease.

"We realized diabetes effects our employees and we just want to raise awareness," Rohr said.

While the ADA does try to help people who already have diabetes better manage their disease, and raise money for the discovery of new treatments, Gonzalez-Seda said a lot of their outreach programs into all the communities they serve are about teaching people a healthy life style that will help them avoid diabetes all together.

"We emphasize prevention or delaying the onset of diabetes," she said.

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