Health department needs SUGAR helpers

Published 9:26 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Lawrence County Health Department and the Appalachian Rural Health Institute will be hosting a training for volunteers to become SUGAR Helpers on Saturday, March 19 from 9 a.m.-12 noon.

The location will be Ohio University Southern, Ironton, in the Ohio Room of the Collins Center.

Recent studies have found that Southeast Ohio has higher than usual numbers of residents living with diabetes. Hypertension, cardiovascular disease and a poor perception of health contribute to the increased risks of developing diabetes. Also contributing to this is the high cost and lack of access to diabetes-related medication.

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We are looking for volunteers to participate in an exciting program called Diabetes: A Family Matter. This title was selected because diabetes not only impacts those with the disease, but the whole family.

When one person has diabetes, their care needs also involve others where they live. Little notice has been given to the family needs of those with Type 2 diabetes.

Family is often left out when medical advice is given by doctors or nurses. This means family members often do not know the best ways to help. This program provides ways to give support to those living with diabetes.

Volunteers in the program are called “SUGAR Helpers.” SUGAR stands for Support to Unite Generations in the Appalachian Region. We are looking for volunteers to participate in two training sessions.

A chief role of a volunteer is to put a public face on healthy living and diabetes prevention. Rather than being an expert, SUGAR Helpers share information and listen. They can lead discussion groups or offer support. They can share facts with church, civic, and community groups. Using humor, laughing often and having fun are characteristics of SUGAR Helpers that make a difference!

Please consider volunteering to be a SUGAR Helper if you or someone you know will be able to participate.

Maxine Lewis is the health educator at the Lawrence County Health Department. She can be reached at 532-3962 for information on this and other programs.