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Free K-12 teacher professional development training May 20

MEDIA RELEASE

FREE K-12 TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON A NEW NATIONAL SCIENCE BASED CURRICULUM PROGRAM FOR NATIVE STUDENTS

Innovative K-12 Curriculum Blends Native Culture and Traditional Science to Empower Native Youth to Live Healthier Lifestyles and Reduce Diabetes in Native Communities

HILO – March 27, 2008 – To address the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes affecting Native youth, schools across the country now have free access to an innovative set of teaching tools designed to increase the understanding of science, health, and diabetes among American Indian and Alaska Native students in kindergarten through grade 12. This new comprehensive curriculum, Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools’ (DETS) “Health is Life in Balance”, is an innovative K-12 diabetes curriculum for tribal schools and public schools with large Native populations. The DETS curriculum blends the science of diabetes with Native knowledge and cultural teachings, and is intended to be integrated with existing curriculum and standards.

The curriculum integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about diabetes and its risk factors, science, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity in maintaining health and balance in life. Applying an inquiry-based approach to learning, the curriculum also builds research skills in observation, measurement, prediction, experimentation, and communication. Classroom learning is expected to benefit immediate family members of the students and their communities as students bring home what they learn. Education professionals will benefit from the curriculum as it brings new knowledge and teaching strategies into the classroom.

Diabetes is almost three times more common in the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population than in the general population. Once considered an adult disease, type 2 diabetes is being diagnosed more and more often in AI/AN and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander children, and the risk for type 2 diabetes is increasing in young people in all U.S. populations. Many people are unaware that the onset of type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed. The DETS curriculum intends to change perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about diabetes through classroom learning experiences that will empower all students to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The DETS development committee was comprised of individuals with knowledge in public health, research, science, and education as well as cultural advisors from across the country. Their commitment to designing the DETS curriculum was part of a seven-year effort coordinated and funded through the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Service and eight Tribal Colleges and Universities.

“To make diabetes education reflective of Native youth, programs need to emphasize the depth of cultural contributions among our people and its relationship to scientific discovery,” said Dr. Carolee Dodge-Francis, assistant professor, and director of the American Indian Research and Education Center at the University of Nevada of Las Vegas. She has been a member of the DETS project since inception.

Dr. Dodge-Francis is a lead evaluator on the DETS project and co-authored the high school science and health units. She will lead the professional development training for high school teachers to be held in Hilo. Janet Belcourt, M.P.H., and Chair of the Steering Committee for DETS, is on faculty at the Stone Child College in Box Elder, Montana, and will assist with the training facilitation for the 5-8 teachers. Dr. Lynn Aho teaching faculty at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, Michigan is also part of the presentation team. She is the lead person for the K-4 DETS Committee. Teachers will have the opportunity to hear Desmon Antone Haumea, Kumu A’o, on Native foods. He is from the Hawaii Community College-Hilo. The sessions will include a diabetes 101 portion, illustrate the 5E inquiry learning foundation of the curriculum, and provide hands on experience with the actual curriculum.

The FREE Teacher Professional Development training on the DETS curriculum is from 8:00am-3:00pm on May 20, 2009, at HCEOC, located at 47 Rainbow Falls Drive. The Federation of American Natives will provide lunch and beverages during the meeting.

Space is limited to 50 teachers. To register send an e-mail with: participant name, school name and address, and teaching grade level, to carolee.dodgefrancis@unlv.edu Grade appropriate curriculum will be provided the day of the training.

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