Diabetes: A Family Matter

Toolkit Activities


The Toolkit Activities are the heart of what volunteer SUGAR Helpers and others in the community can do to impact the health of local residents. The Toolkit Activities include many ideas that can be used to make diabetes more visible throughout your entire community. The activities suggest different ways to start conversations with local people about diabetes risks, intergenerational concerns of illness, prevention of the diabetes and its complications, and the steps needed for good diabetes self-management. Most of the activities focus of health promotion and healthy lifestyles.

Photo of toolkit activities

Citizen Action can provide a valuable way to make your community healthier. Citizen Action is where community people join together to address their common needs. Citizen Action implies assuming some responsibility for reach a caring and helping hand out to others. Citizen Action requires all people in the community to do something to make the place where they live a healthier and better place to live. Through Citizen Action communities can reach out to one another and assist families, friends, and neighbors of the communities. Through Citizen Action we can improve our lives. In places where health resources are limited and geography limits access to needed services, it is critical that local people find new ways to meet their needs. Working together through Citizen Action local families, groups, and residents can cooperate to reduce health risks and improve well-being.

Through Citizen Action, these Toolkit Activities can be used in your community. Beginning a Diabetes: A Family Matter program in your community could be a great way to start making a difference and asking others to join you. Becoming a volunteer SUGAR Helper and encouraging others to join you in taking care of their health is a wonderful way to contribute to the health and wellness of many. Some of these Toolkit Activities can be used by a single SUGAR Helper with a single individual. SUGAR Helpers might want to try some of these activities with family members and friends. However, there are also activities for use with community groups of all kind and campaigns or events to sponsor in the larger community. These activities suggest ways that SUGAR Helpers can work with others to spread facts and fun about healthy living and diabetes prevention.

You can access the activities in each category by clicking the links in the left-hand menu, below "Toolkit Activities."

Each activity suggests ideas that can be adapted to fit local needs. Diabetes educators and SUGAR Helpers in a community can take these ideas and modify them in ways that best meet what people living in your area need and would enjoy. As you consider the availability of resources (e.g., people, time, money, etc.), decisions about which activities might be the most successful to try in your family, group, neighborhood, or community can be made. Most activities can be done with either no or small financial costs, but it will still take time and effort to make them happen.

The Toolkit Activities are largely derived from combining theoretical thinking and cultural ideas about families and health into ideas that can be used locally. The Toolkit Activities are mainly family or community-focused. Rather than merely thinking about diabetes from individual perspectives, ways to engage families, groups, and communities are considered. Most people live in a household with others. The ways members interact is a key point when considering the ways individual and family routines are formed and used in daily lives. Routines can be healthy, but they can also put persons at risk for illness and disease. Often family members share many of the same routines. This means when changes are needed for one individual, the routines or habits of many in the household can also be affected. This toolkit targets the things family members do around routines linked with healthy eating and physical activity and suggests activities that have potential to create new routines.

Diabetes education is an important aspect of diabetes prevention and good diabetes management. While diabetes is spreading in epidemic proportions across the nation, people in some places have limited access to diabetes education. This may be because people do not have health insurance or unable to pay for education, diabetes educators and health providers may not be available locally, or people may have other barriers that keep them from getting needed education. It is through diabetes education that people learn the facts about diabetes and ways to prevent and manage it.

The Diabetes: A Family Matter program views diabetes education from a family-focused perspective and has used edutainment as the way to build Toolkit Activities. This means that the education is not merely focused on the person with the disease, but also considers others that are apt to provide support or do things that might become barriers. Edutainment means that rather than only including more traditional modes of education, novel ways are used to spread diabetes facts and messages through the community. The Toolkit Activities take the point of view that learning about diabetes and healthy lifestyles can occur in many different ways and be a fun experience shared by family members.

Review the various Toolkit Activities and choose a few to get started. Each activity suggests different ways to use the ideas. It is up to you to decide the directions that your community will take with each of them. After you have completed the activities, be sure to return to the Communicate section of the program website and describe how you have used this activity in your community. Share the outcomes of the activity. By doing this, others across the Appalachian region can learn from one another about new and better ways to use these activities. It is likely that you will have some ideas of your own to contribute.

As you review the list of Toolkit Activities you will find that there are three kinds of activities. Some activities will be useful for large groups or community activities, others will work better for use with a family, and some will be best for small groups. As you use your imagination and creativity you will likely think of other uses for the Toolkit Activities. The idea is to take them and make them your own! Discover ways to use Citizen Action to improve the health and well-being of all those you know and care about in your local community.