Tribal Health Joins Forces the UM, SKC and UW to Address Childhood Obesity
The University of Montana (UM), the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Tribal Health Department (THD), and Salish Kootenai College (SKC) as well as the University of Washington (UW) have joined forces to address the issue of childhood obesity on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Childhood obesity is a prime factor in diabetes development.
The three-year project is funded by a $90,000 grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Development R13 Conference Series. It is entitled, “Partnerships to prevent childhood obesity on the Flathead Indian Reservation.”
“This is a collaborative effort of tribal and non-tribal entities and their families,” said Gyda Swaney, Director of Indians Into Psychology Program at the UM. “This is a planning grant to find out what the community wants and how feasible that is.”
“We will start the planning process that will help identify the need and interest in this,” said Brenda Bodnar, THD Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) manager. The project will be directed by a community advisory board made up of community leaders. “We will establish a stake holders committee and begin meeting on how to address the issues of obesity, and diabetes on the reservation.”
In the early 1990s health care professionals began to notice a rise in the incidence of diabetes in America. They noticed an alarming difference in the rate of diabetes between American Indian and the non-Indian populace. The incidence of diabetes among non-Indians is around 24 percent; among American Indians the rates soar upwards to 57 percent.
“We certainly will be targeting Native American youth at risk for diabetes as well as non-Native American youth on the reservation,” said Blakely Brown, UM. “Our other goal is to pull together all the different programs in the area working on child health issues.”
Throughout the next three years the project will bring together tribal, non-tribal people including parents, teachers, community leaders, and professionals and programs on the Flathead Reservation, and the faculty at the UM, to collaboratively develop and implement programs that reduce the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes on the reservation. Teams of will be meeting in different areas of the reservation to share information and ideas in the effort to identify and initiate new programs to address obesity and diabetes.
“Improving the health of youth and their families is primary focus of this grant,” Swaney said, adding that UM worked with THD, SKC, CSKT Council, area school boards, county commissioners, and several other organizations across the Flathead Reservation to develop the framework and approach for the capacity building project. “These partnerships, and others that will be established during the project, will enhance the community-based participatory focus of the project.”
• Primary Investigators are: Brenda Bodnar, THD Diabetes Prevention Program; Blakely Brown, UM; and Michael Tryon, SKC.
• Co-Investigators are: Annie Belcourt, Kari Harris, and Gyda Swaney of the UM.
• Advisors to the project are: Bonnie Duran, UW, and Tom Seekins, UM Rural Health program.
For more information and/or to participate, contact:
• Michael Tryon at: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Blakely Brown at: Blakely.email@example.com
• Brenda Bodnar: firstname.lastname@example.org