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The Promotores are certified to teach diabetes health education classes throughout Santa Barbara County.

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI), a global leader in diabetes research, education and care, celebrates the graduation of 17 newly certified diabetes health educators better known as, “promotores.” The multilingual diabetes specialists received their certificates during a graduation ceremony this week at SDRI.

SDRI finalized an education program to train these diabetes promotores in late 2018, and 17 women and men successfully completed an exhausting but exhilarating 10 weeks of the inaugural diabetes education training in January. Promotores are individuals from the community trained by SDRI to become specialists in community health diabetes education. Many have joined SDRI after completing education programs themselves as participants.

“These are people who have worked tirelessly for their community,” said Mary Conneely, SDRI’s Diabetes Coordinator/Promotores Supervisor. “They have big hearts to teach not only their families but their peers. They have learned that education is one of the most important tools they can have to reach out to their communities.”

Prior to the intensive training, most of the promotores were attendees of SDRI’s Ocho Pasos a la Buena Salud (Eight Steps to Better Health) diabetes education program; a free, 8-week nutrition and diabetes self-management education course taught in Spanish at clinics, churches and community centers throughout Santa Barbara County. More than 1,000 people have participated during the program’s 10+ years in existence in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Carpinteria. SDRI will be expanding the program in 2019 and begin offering series in Lompoc and Carpinteria.

The promotores are vital to many of SDRI’s education and research programs; the intense training in diabetes education enables promotores to lead their own Ocho Pasos workshops, teach diabetes education and nutrition classes, perform A1C’s and biometrics, and provide support with research studies. The promotores are also ready to teach diabetes education classes sponsored by other local organizations that partner with SDRI.

Their development was inspired by a collaboration of community medical agencies in the city of Santa Barbara.  In a public health town hall meeting, these agencies identified gaps in services available for those who were living with, or at risk of developing diabetes. It was through this concerted effort that the curriculum known as “8 Steps” (“Ocho Pasos”) was born.

The “8 Steps” workshops began as a grassroots effort and a labor of love. The aim was to meet the need of basic diabetes education with an emphasis on sound nutrition in the medically underserved Spanish speaking population of our community.

After years of implementation, a routine developed in which seasoned community members would return time and time again to attend the workshops.  This is how SDRI’s promotores program was born.

The Ocho Pasos workshops provide a safe place of learning and sharing for our community members. We aim to bring health and vitality through diabetes education and sound nutrition advice.

“People who attended the Ocho Pasos classes lowered their A1C and they lost weight because it’s about how to take care of your diabetes and how to exercise to lose weight and lower your blood glucose,” said Conneely.

More than 30 million people in the United States are living with diabetes and another 80 million have prediabetes. Through education programs such as the ones offered at SDRI, residents are improving their health, and in many cases, preventing diabetes through healthful eating, meal preparation, exercise and stress management.

For more information about SDRI’s promotores and Ocho Pasos, visit