Additionally, CHWs use the following strategies to engage participants during their sessions:
- Engaging in a 15-minute physical activity with fun, innovative exercises (i.e. zumba or dancing)
- Providing a healthy snack to participants and reviewing its nutritional value, so families are encouraged to incorporate healthier foods into their diets
- Using visuals and tangible educational tools (i.e., fat and sugar models) to educate participants on nutrition
Throughout each session, CHWs include examples that are relevant to their audience, such as common lifestyle habits or barriers that participants experience. This enhances participants’ engagement with the material and increases the likelihood of adopting healthier habits that are introduced.
CHWs are Key to Program Implementation
The CHWs in Juntos Podemos are successful because they share the culture, language, and values of the community they are serving. As Spanish-speaking Latinos living in South Texas and trusted members of their community, these CHWs are able to provide education and resources that are culturally and linguistically-appropriate. This has allowed CHWs to successfully implement in-person and virtual outreach, share relevant community resources, and recruit program participants.
Program Challenges and Successes
Since program sessions are typically carried out in-person, CHWs have needed to adjust how they deliver the program due to COVID-19 restrictions. This has included reducing class sizes and providing classes via phone or video conferencing. These methods have been welcomed by the community and proven successful.
Juntos Podemos has made a huge impact on the communities it served. In 2020, CHWs provided healthy lifestyle education to 9,771 community members, and enrolled 2,241 participants in the program’s health education classes. About half of these participants have reported an increase in their health knowledge, fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity. Additionally, parents reported that nearly half of the children in the program increased their physical activity.
Juntos Podemos is an example of a family-centered, CHW-led intervention that educates families on the importance of healthy lifestyle behaviors to reduce risk factors for diabetes. CHWs are key to delivering the program in a culturally-informed way that meets the needs of the community it serves.
This blog is part of the Diabetes Prevention Across the Lifespan Series, a 4-part blog series published by MHP Salud and Health Outreach Partners.