Behavior change—getting people to increase physical activity and improve dietary intake is the prime challenge in diabetes prevention. To be effective, we must reach young children before their lifestyle habits are fully established.
Our school-based programs are at the core of our offerings. We believe they will be extremely effective in establishing a lifelong respect for exercise and healthy eating.
Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Education
Based on a school education model for tobacco control that proved successful in Delhi, Arogya World established a two-year school-based pilot for diabetes awareness and prevention education. This program, developed in partnership with youth NGO HRIDAY in India, used influencers such as teachers and peers to reach and educate 11- to 14-year-olds about diabetes and its prevention. The comprehensive program, which kicked off in 2011, included classroom and school-based activities, as well as outreach efforts in students’ homes and communities. Support for developing the materials and reaching and teaching these children was obtained from Merck/MSD.
We measured the program’s effectiveness through pre- and post-pilot comparisons of the students’ self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behavior and were encouraged to learn that children reported a better awareness of diabetes and its prevention and had reduced their consumption of junk foods.
World Diabetes Day
In addition to classroom-based learning, school children participated in other learning activities in tandem with World Diabetes Day:
- Poster-Making Competition – Organized by HRIDAY and Arogya World, 300 school children participated in a week-long, city-wide poster making competition in selected schools throughout New Delhi on the dual occasion of Children’s Day and World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14th, 2011. In light of the year’s theme, “Diabetes Education and Prevention,” children created posters with the message: “Diabetes Can and Must be Prevented with Exercise and Healthy Eating.” Winning posters were displayed at participating schools for the rest of the year. View highlights on our Facebook page.
- Skit Competition – In 2012, the children participated in skits on the theme of diabetes.
- Walks – In 2009, Arogya World held 40 walks with school children in different parts of Delhi to mark World Diabetes Day. A select group visited the Prime Minister’s home.
Schools Program Expansion in India
Currently, Arogya World’s two-year program is being adapted to rural India and being implemented with 500 children in rural South India with Agastya International Foundation. We are working with Agastya’s Young Instructional Leaders, training them to deliver the program to their classmates.
The next phase of our Healthy Schools program is well underway. This 2-year program is designed to teach middle school children the basics of healthy eating and physical activity, with the goal of preventing diabetes. Through mid-February 2015:
- 600 students have completed the two-year program
- 1,800 students have completed the first year of the program. (We will implement the second year of the program to the same 1,800 students next school year.)
- Pre- and post-intervention questionnaires were filled out by all 2,400 students and data will be analyzed later this year.
Every Woman, Every Child Commitment
In March 2014, Arogya World made a Commitment to the UN’s Every Woman, Every Child Initiative, an unprecedented effort to improve the health of women and children everywhere. We committed to reaching and teaching 10,000 additional children with our two-year diabetes prevention program by 2019. Read our Commitment.
- 2011-2013 – Schools Pilot in Urban India (Delhi) with 2,000 children completed
- 2013-2015 – Adapted to Rural South India for 500 children (ongoing)
- 2014-2019 – Every Woman, Every Child commitment for 10,000 children (ongoing)