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Wellmark Foundation grant funds statewide pre-diabetes education initiative

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, will help create pre-diabetes toolkit

January 24, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – St. Mary’s Foundation in Pierre, S.D., has received a $24,986, two-year grant from The Wellmark Foundation to implement a wellness and diabetes prevention initiative in South Dakota. The South Dakota Diabetes Coalition (SDDC) will administer and provide leadership for the collaborative effort.

The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. The Foundation provides support to non-profit and public entities to help local communities establish or expand health initiatives. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award represents one of the 17 grants competitively awarded to support projects throughout Iowa and South Dakota. Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“The Wellmark Foundation is proud to support the St. Mary’s Foundation and South Dakota Diabetes Coalition,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Their project was competitively selected because of its creative design to increase pre-diabetes awareness through community organizations, while also supporting the South Dakota Diabetes State Plan.”

The Pre-Diabetes Community Toolkit will develop and distribute toolkits to 100 community-based service and social organizations across South Dakota to increase pre-diabetes awareness among their members, says Colette Hesla, proposal coordinator for the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition.

The toolkits will contain DVDs with brief presentations by health care professionals about implications of pre-diabetes, diabetes risk factors, how nutrition and physical activity can prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, screening tips and more. Additional toolkit items will include supporting facilitator information, written take-home materials for members, pedometers and evaluations. A goal is for this important information to reach thousands of South Dakotans, facilitating behavior changes that will improve their health, ultimately decreasing the number of South Dakotans who progress to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The project will target entities including civic and service organizations, county extension agents, public libraries, non-profit organizations and other stakeholder groups. The short-term goal of the project is to distribute 25 toolkits by September 2011. The long-term goal is to help support South Dakota’s Diabetes Strategic Plan objective to increase public awareness of pre-diabetes risk factors and how nutrition and physical activity can prevent Type 2 diabetes and other choric diseases.

About the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition
The mission of the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition is to improve health outcomes of those affected by diabetes in South Dakota. The group works by bringing together organizations working with diabetes through the state in four standing committees in the areas of advocacy, patient education, professional education, and public awareness. The coalition works to promote diabetes prevention, education, and general promoting public awareness of healthier lifestyles.

For more information on the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition, contact Colette Hesla, (605) 224-0016 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit



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