WVU student pharmacists educate children on diabetes awareness and prevention
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy are determined to stop the increasing number of children and adults who are diagnosed with diabetes each year. On Feb. 25, WVU student pharmacists traveled to North Elementary School in Morgantown to educate children in the Kaleidoscope after-school program about diabetes and the importance of diet and physical activity to living a healthy life.
“We wanted to focus on a disease state that is common in West Virginia and target children before they get the disease,” second-year pharmacy student Jeff Davis said. “The main causes of Type 2 diabetes are obesity and an inactive lifestyle.”
The student pharmacists helped educate the children about making better health and exercise choices through Kaleidoscope - a fun, hands-on activity that uses hula hoops and coloring to illustrate how diabetes affects the body.
“We hope the activity made diabetes and the importance of insulin to a healthy body easier for the children to understand,” Davis said. “Physical activity helps the body’s production of insulin. This is why being active is so important.”
The student pharmacists not only had a goal of reaching the children through their presentation, but also the children’s parents and guardians.
“Parents should be encouraging their children to make healthier lifestyle choices, but they should lead by example,” Davis said. “We must remember that while cases of children being diagnosed with diabetes are increasing, so are cases of adults being diagnosed, especially in the state of West Virginia. We hope the children in Kaleidoscope take the information they learned home to their families so they can start making their families healthier.”
The students’ project focused on parts of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, a nationwide program that aims to improve the public’s health over the next 10 years by working toward a variety of healthcare objectives, including reducing diabetes, its economic burden and improving the overall quality of life for people who have or are at risk for diabetes.
The student pharmacists were partnered with North Elementary School through the WVU Center for Civic Engagement as part of their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience course, which promotes service to the community. The students received funding for the activity through the Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition and UnitedHealth HEROES Youth Service of America grants.
North Elementary School students Cynthia Shi (left) and Shivali Halabe (right) learn through an educational activity that insulin and fitness are important to preventing diabetes.