Dominic Mendoza, Mia Lewis, Samuel Lewis, Joseph Lewis and Maria Martinez hold up freshly picked eggplants.

Bee Healthy, Bee Happy Youth Wellness Program Makes Progress in Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

The Diabetes Program of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Health and Human Services Division offers a special program for youth called “Bee Healthy, Bee Happy.” The goals are to educate at-risk youth in healthy lifestyle choices for diabetes prevention. The 12-week program recently ended on June 20, with the final session spent picking fruits and vegetables at the Community Garden.

“We promoted consumption of fruits and vegetables,” said Certified Diabetes Educator Maggie Fisher about the last day of the program. “I also wanted to [explain to the children] about how the people used to spend their time and energy doing agriculture. Eating the food that they grew [themselves] would give them a balanced weight. I also wanted them to know that they can get produce here and get [assistance with planting] a garden here if they wanted to, if they don’t have space [for] a garden at their own homes.”

The Bee Healthy, Bee Happy Youth Wellness Program met on Thursday evenings from 4 to 5:30 p.m. During each session, they spent an hour at the health conference room and then headed over to the Salt River Fitness Center to exercise for the last 30 minutes.

As the program came to an end, Fisher said that the youth and their families have made progress in changing their sugar consumption, eating habits and level of physical activity.

Fisher also explained that the youth have a better understanding of the “8-5-2-1-0” skills. The 8 is for the number of hours of sleep they should have each night, the 5 is promoting the children to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, 2 stands for limiting recreational screen time to two hours or less each day, the 1 is a reminder to get at least 1 hour of physical activity each day, and the 0 encourages youth to limit sweets and sweetened beverages to 0.

“Most of the kids now have zero to one and a half cups of sugared beverages a day, while before they were having three or more,” said Fisher. “And they all have increased their vegetable intake, which is very good.”

On the last day, awards were given to students for program attendance, and one award was presented to the student who lost the most weight, 21 pounds, by following the 8-5-2-1-0 skills.

“During the program we exercised at the Fitness Center and talked about how healthy we have to eat. I liked picking out the vegetables,” said Mia Lewis about what she learned while taking part in the program and the activities on the last day at the Community Garden.

For more information or to sign up for next year’s program, contact Certified Diabetes Educator Maggie Fisher at (480) 362-6640.

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Bee Healthy, Bee Happy Youth Wellness Program Makes Progress in Preventing Type 2 Diabetes