NOVEMBER 16, 2011

YMCA’S Diabetes Prevention Program Cutting Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

79 million Americans are at high risk

ymca logoPHOENIX – November marks National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the Valley of the Sun YMCA is offering Phoenix residents a way to cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes through the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, an innovative class teaching people to make lifestyle changes that may lead to preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.   

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and a staggering 79 million people have prediabetes, a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers startling statistics related to the severity of the disease. The most alarming is that every 17 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes and diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

In Phoenix, YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program participant Paula W. highly recommends the course to those serious about improving their overall health. “The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program has helped me to focus on what is important for a healthy lifestyle, including smart food choices, weight control and physical activity.  It has also helped me to stay on track over the long haul with small changes that will make a difference in my overall health.” 

“The Y is dedicated to strengthening community, and the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is helping individuals in Phoenix avoid developing type 2 diabetes by teaching them new behaviors that can last a lifetime,” said Sarah Shimchick, Director of the Valley of the Sun’s YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. “Through this program, the Y is equipping more people with the tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle and, ultimately, improving the health of our community as a whole.”

In a group setting, a trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by learning about healthy eating, physical activity and other behavior changes over the course of 16 one-hour sessions. Following these sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year for added support in reaching their ultimate goals. The program’s two specific goals are to reduce weight by 7% and increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

The program is open to everyone 18 years of age or older, who qualifies by being overweight and at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes or overweight and have been diagnosed by a physician as someone with prediabetes. United Healthcare members who qualify may be covered through their health care policy. Through lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

In Phoenix, approximately 100 individuals have taken advantage of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program since it began here in September 2010. Eight Valley YMCA branches currently offer the weekly program - Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA, Glendale/Peoria Family YMCA, Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA, Maryvale Family YMCA, Scottsdale/Paradise Valley Family YMCA, Southwest Valley Family YMCA and Tempe Family YMCA.  The program is looking to expand to other Y branches and community sites.

The Valley of the Sun YMCA is one of 46 Ys nationwide participating in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that showed losing a moderate amount of weight and increasing physical activity lowers the  risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% in people with prediabetes. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is supported nationally by UnitedHealth Group and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addtion to Arizona, the program is available at nearly 4 dozen Ys in 22 additonal states. Visit the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program webpage for more information and details on upcoming classes.

To learn more about the Valley of the Sun’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please contact Sarah Shimchick, the program director at 602-212-6189 or

NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Sanford Harmony Program offers early intervention to improve how boys and girls treat each other

TEMPE - The news is shocking for parents and for students. A new survey by the American Association of University Women reports that 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Those students who are doing the harassing oftentimes think they are being funny, but nearly a third who are victims said the harassment made them feel sick, affected studying or made them reluctant to go to school at all, according to the survey.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Arizona State University child developmentalists are working to change the ways that boys and girls interact and engage each other through early intervention in schools. 

Professors Richard Fabes, Carol Martin, Laura Hanish, and Kimberly Updegraff in ASU’s School of Social and Family Dynamics are developing the Sanford Harmony Program that is designed to enhance relationships among girls and boys. The Sanford Harmony Program combines cutting-edge research, best practices, tested curricula and training programs and the dissemination of these to improve the ways that boys and girls think about and treat one another.

The Sanford Harmony program at ASU is currently being implemented in several early childhood and intermediate classrooms across the Phoenix metropolitan area. One teacher who instructs older students reported that, “I liked the fact that it facilitated dialogue between students who wouldn’t normally interact with each other. I also enjoyed watching students of opposite sexes discovering traits and interests that they have in common.”

The program is the only one of its kind that is designed specifically to help boys and girls learn more about each other, develop positive attitudes and behaviors towards each other, and inspire mutual respect and cooperation in their everyday lives.

“The Sanford Harmony Program promotes a positive learning environment in classrooms. We believe that enhancing harmony between boys and girls in the classroom will improve learning and performance, and the preliminary data we have support this. All of this should help reduce sexual harassment,” said Fabes, a Sanford Harmony Program executive director and School of Social and Family Dynamics director.

Boys and girls from a very young age of 3 to 4 years tend to prefer to play and interact with members of their own sex, establishing a pattern of growing up in two separate worlds – one for boys and one for girls. They play more often with members of the same sex and, because they learn specific behaviors associated with their own gender groups, over time they may become less comfortable with the other sex, according to the ASU child developmentalists.

That’s when the cycle of separateness can begin. And unfortunately, the separateness becomes exaggerated over childhood. Puberty brings a strong attraction to the other sex, but girls and boys may be ill-prepared to interact, setting the stage for developing negative attitudes and engaging in actions such as sexual harassment. Boys and girls who learn to interact effectively with one another in early years are better equipped to minimize conflict and mistreatment in future relationships, Fabes said.

The goals of the Sanford Harmony Program are to conduct comprehensive research to understand the factors that contribute to the development of negative attitudes and behaviors toward the other sex by some children and adolescents and to develop cost-effective, community-based prevention and intervention programs that promote positive relationships between boys and girls. The ASU researchers are also working on testing, marketing and disseminating these programs and adapting them for use in a variety of settings.

“We have established a partnership with experienced and committed teachers and educators and they have helped us develop an innovative program that improves the ways boys and girls treat one another. It is specifically designed to address issues such as those identified in this latest report on sexual harassment. Through the vision and generosity of T. Denny Sanford, we have been able to create a new way for teachers to bring boys and girls together to learn about each other and have positive experiences that they carry forward with them in and out of school,” Martin said.

More information about the program can be found at their web site;, on Facebook, or on YouTube;

A Teacher Resource Center is available through the Sanford Harmony Program web site that provides teachers with a book list, cooperative activities, classroom routines, teacher-to-teacher interactions, links and resources and a contact for the program.