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Health’s Ongoing Fight Against Diabetes

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For the third consecutive year, STC proudly hosted the annual Prevent, Treat, and Beat Diabetes Symposium, collaborating once again with STHS and Prominence Health in a collective effort to combat one of the most prevalent diseases in the RGV. STC Image
For the third consecutive year, STC proudly hosted the annual Prevent, Treat, and Beat Diabetes Symposium, collaborating once again with STHS and Prominence Health in a collective effort to combat one of the most prevalent diseases in the RGV. STC Image
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By Selene Rodriguez

For the third consecutive year, South Texas College proudly hosted the annual Prevent, Treat, and Beat Diabetes Symposium, collaborating once again with South Texas Health System (STHS) and Prominence Health in a collective effort to combat one of the most prevalent diseases in the Rio Grande Valley.

Held at STC’s Nursing and Allied Health campus, the recent two-day event featured numerous informative activities targeted specifically to children, adults, caregivers, seniors and Spanish speakers to raise awareness on how to improve one’s health through exercise and nutrition. 

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“The event was a resounding success. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to STHS and Prominence Health for allowing us to be part of this vital community initiative, and to all the participants who joined us in taking proactive steps towards a healthier future,” said STC’s Dean for Nursing and Allied Health Jayson Valerio, DNP. “Events like these underscore our commitment to community health education and our ongoing efforts to combat diabetes through awareness and preventative action. Together, we are making a difference.”

According to data from the National Library of Medicine, the adult diabetes prevalence in the RGV stands at approximately 30.7%, nearly three times higher than the national average of 12.3%. Alarmingly, about half of those affected are unaware they have the condition, highlighting the need for increased screening and awareness.

“Unfortunately, diabetes is a serious issue in the RGV. Our mission is to educate as many as possible, spanning all ages, on prevention, treatment and management strategies. Education is key,” said Tom Castañeda, STHS director of Marketing and Communications. “STC has played an indispensable role not only by hosting this event, but also nurturing its growth over the past three years. STC students have also been incredible in helping us raise the bar when it comes to educate the community.”


Over 160 students from the Mission Consolidated Independent School District (Mission CISD) participated in the first day of the event, which was tailored specifically for children with presentations by renowned health care professionals such as Dr. Ashley Bose from Ashley Pediatrics and Victoria Gomez from STHS’ Mental Well-Being Clinic. 

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During the sessions, students learned fundamental aspects of diabetes, how to stay active through simple exercises, easy ways to prepare healthy snacks and various techniques for enhancing mental health, encouraging them to develop healthy habits and to share the knowledge with their families to promote similar practices at home.

Erika Vela, a fifth-grade teacher at Leal Elementary School, said this event was especially dear to her class, as some of her students are personally affected by the chronic disease. 

“I actually have some students who suffer from diabetes so it was great for all of them to learn more about it so they can empathize with their classmates or family members facing this challenge,” she said. “They especially enjoyed the mindful breathing class, which came at a perfect time with the upcoming State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. Not only did they learn various stress-relieving techniques, but they also had fun making friendship bracelets to ease their minds.”

The second day of the event was open to the entire community providing workshops which covered a range of crucial topics such as Diabetes and Dental Health, What are my options for Diabetes Medications? and Easy Physical Exercises for Seniors.

Attendees benefited from the expertise of leading health care professionals such as Dr. James E. Chalk from the South Texas Vascular Institute and Dentist Ericka Zarate from the Advanced Dentistry & Headache Center.

“My friends attended this event last year and urged me to join them. We all traveled together from Weslaco,” shared Marie Heins, who has been battling the disease since 2008. “My day kicked off with some yoga exercises, and I must say, I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it. Personally, I found the dentist seminar very insightful, especially since my dentist has emphasized the importance of dental care for me. I’m certain that I’ve gained valuable knowledge that will benefit me moving forward.”

More than 40 students from South Texas College’s Vocational Nursing and Physical Therapist Assistant programs expressed their appreciation for the chance to contribute to the community by assisting in health screenings, engaging the children in food-related activities and helping seniors learn easy ways to exercise, making a positive impact as they prepare to enter the medical field. 

“Timing couldn’t be better for us as we’ve just wrapped up our diabetes education. Knowing more about it, I’m grateful to STHS for promoting such a crucial cause,” said Victoria Gonzalez, a first-level Vocational Nursing student who participated in fun activities, showing children sugar content in fast food options. “Even at the beginning of our program, we have the chance to give back. I firmly believe we’re making a difference, especially seeing how well-informed these children are about healthy practices and the adverse effects of sugar on the body. I was genuinely impressed.”

For more information on STC’s Nursing and Allied Health programs, visit nah.southtexascollege.edu/ or call 956-872-3100.

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