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Health People's Diabetes Education Initiative in the South Bronx

HOST 1: For the past three years, billionaire Mackenzie Scott has been donating significant amounts of money to small non-profits around the county. Last week, the long reach of this philanthropic giving touched the South Bronx. 

HOST 2: The Yield GIving project donated $2 million dollars to Health People, a long-standing non-profit focused on preventing and treating chronic diseases. As Tommaso Baronio reports, this windfall will change the organization’s focus. 

BARONIO: It’s Tuesday morning, in the offices of Health People in the South Bronx. And even a week after the announcement.. Chris Norwood, the organization’s founder and executive director, is still shaking her head in disbelief in receiving two million in unsolicited funding.  

[play some of the ambi throughout] 

NORWOOD: We almost never would dream of receiving funding like that.

BARONIO: It was a surprise that Health People received the money, a happy one. … Health People was started in the early 90s to help people with AIDS. It’s  continued that work…but this new money will allow them to extend their support for diabetes.

NORWOOD: We're going to start a peer training institute to train peer educators in, providing good self-management education for diabetes and chronic disease and preventive education. 

BARONIO: The South Bronx has the highest diabetes rate in the City. Norwood says one grim statistic? Diabetes-related amputations have increased a hundred percent in the past decade.  

But “Knowledge is power,” as Norwood usually repeats 

NORWOOD: We teach people to read every label. if your nutrition information has come from TV ads since the day you were born,  you just won't know much about nutrition. 

RIVAS: I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in 2014.  

BARONIO: Today, Evelyn Rivas is a peer educator at Health People. Her life was very different when she got the diagnosis. 

RIVAS: when they first did the blood work, and they told me that I could have gone easily into a coma, I was like in a state of shock.

BARONIO:  That moment changed her life. 

RIVAS: I learned how to eat be tter. I started reading labels. I started eating by portions. I started, eating differently

BARONIO: Rivas says one of the worst outcomes of poorly managed diabetes is the risk of amputation. 

RIVAS: Before you used to get on a public bus, and you would see maybe one wheelchair with, you know, a person, um, but now you get on a public bus in the Bronx, and you're gonna have like maybe four or five wheelchairs in one shot.  

BARONIO: Dr Robert Borrow teaches at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. He says type 2 diabetes is not genetic.

BORROW: There is no excuse for almost everybody with type 2 diabetes. There's no reason, And you have to hear it from someone you trust

BARONIO: Borrow says he trusts Chris Norwood and Health People to use their newfound grant wisely. 

BORROW: 2 million extra in Chris's pocket is a wonderful thing. It makes a huge difference in just, just lighting a fire under people's understanding.  

BARONIO: Health PeoplePeer educator Evelyn Rivas says people in the Bronx know how to do things for themselves. 

RIVAS:  We have to learn how to eat better, look for better prices,  when we go to the supermarket, make better decisions, stay away from the sodas

BARONIO:  She says the $2 million dollars from Makenzie Scott will go a long way to spreading these messages in the South Bronx. 

Tommaso Baronio, Columbia radio news.


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