Community Health Day spotlights rising diabetes cases

Kesha Williams
May 07, 2013

community-health-day-spot When the Elizabeth City State University Psychology Club decided to hold a Community Health Day on April 20, they were motivated by some staggering facts. More than 25 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes, Dr. Michelle Wiggins, an assistant professor in the ECSU Psychology Department and the club's advisor, told the group. That's 8.3 percent of the population. The statistics, which come from the American Diabetes Association, also show that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is growing nationwide and in this region, Wiggins said. Another 79 million people have prediabetes, a situation the ADA describes as having blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. In 2010 alone, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people age 20 and older. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the South leads the nation in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes. Officials with the Albemarle Regional Health Services admit the number of citizens in this region who have been diagnosed with diabetes is alarming. Because the number of young people with the disease is increasing, Wiggins and the Psychology Club knew just where to turn with hopes of impacting the next generation. They selected ECSU students, staff, faculty and area residents to focus their efforts with a Community Health Day. The event, held April 20, included a community education and awareness component along with fundraising walk from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Roebuck Stadium to raise money to help find a cure and support the ADA mission. More than 250 participants learned about preventive measures and healthy eating habits and lifestyles. Many of the participants also walked. So far, $2,303.50 has been raised by the ECSU Psychology Club's efforts. "The fight against diabetes was important to ECSU and our community, and this walk is much more than just an event," Wiggins said. "We achieved our goal of assisting victims, conducting critical research, hosting community-based education programs, raising awareness, and fighting this silent disease." Numerous local companies also supported the event. Culligan provided water, while Hampton Inn, Fairfield Suites, Wal-Mart, Golden Corral, Xpress Lube, Hwy 55 Burgers, Subway, Pineapple Cafe, The Villa, Firehouse Subs and others provided gift cards for door prizes. Wiggins said the event was the first step in reaching a critical audience-college students-before they settle into adult lifestyles. Diabetes is more common among several population groups, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, all of whom are part of the ECSU community. Wiggins said the Psychology Club members were delighted to raise awareness and be part of a walk that draws participants across the nation. Nationally, Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, the ADA's signature fundraiser and awareness event, has been held annually for more than 20 years with 120 walk events across the country raising more than $24 million. The community can continue to support the ECSU Psychology Club's efforts by contributing on line. Visit, click on "Join a Walk," look for "North Carolina" and find "Diabetes Community Day." For more information, see the American Diabetes Association website. # # #