Center brings diabetes education to Chicago neighborhoods

Mile Square Health Center-exterior

Mile Square Health Center staff learned practical skills for diabetes management and prevention from the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center’s Diabetes Empowerment Education Program.


Giving people with diabetes the skills they need to keep themselves healthy — that’s the goal of a UIC program that trains the trainers.

The Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center recently completed its first training sessions in the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program. The participants, staff members at Mile Square Health Center, learned practical skills for diabetes management and prevention that they will then teach Mile Square community health workers. The community health workers will pass their knowledge along to diabetes patients at Mile Square centers and school-based clinics around Chicago.

“Mile Square serves people who need to know how they can take control of their diabetes. This is the essence of empowerment — giving people power to improve their health and the quality of their lives,” said Sheila Castillo, director of the center in the Jane Addams College of Social Work.

In the three-day training, Mile Square staff learned how to discuss the disease using easy-to-understand language for patients.

“DEEP training is valuable to health care professionals and paraprofessionals because it really opens their eyes to what the patient wants to know about diabetes,” Castillo said. “It prepares them to talk to patients in a way that is meaningful in the context of the patient’s life.”

The center offers training in diabetes self-management education to health workers around the country. DEEP is one of three diabetes education programs selected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the Everyone with Diabetes Counts initiative.

“Our community health workers at Mile Square are vital to our engagement and extended reach to the community,” said Karriem Watson, director of community engaged research at Mile Square.  “DEEP has a rich tradition of equipping community health workers with valuable knowledge that can be deployed in the community.”

The program was developed by the UIC center with assistance from Latino Health Access of California in 1997. It originally focused on training community health workers as diabetes educators, later expanding the curriculum for health promoters and health care practitioners.

Although the program was developed for Latinos, it was found to be equally effective for African Americans, Castillo said.

In addition to DEEP, the center offers the Diabetes Empowerment Prevention Program, the Health Empowerment Lifestyle Program and Diabetes Today, a course on organizing communities around diabetes. The Healthy Eating/Active Living Guide complements the three programs.

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