LITTLE ROCK — People with diabetes are not alone in the health challenges they face.

Nearly 15 percent of Arkansans — about 360,000 people — have diabetes, and 800,000 more residents have pre-diabetes, a condition in which an individual may have a blood sugar level that is elevated, but below the threshold of a diabetes diagnosis, according to the American Diabetes Association’s Arkansas Chapter.

The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will offer a 12-week online support group for people living with diabetes. Participation is free, and registration is open at https://bit.ly/3iqSpYS.

The group, Day to Day with Diabetes, will meet from July 13-Sept. 21. Virtual meetings will be offered on Mondays with additional resources in health, wellness, nutrition and fitness posted to a private Facebook page throughout the week, including Taste Tuesday for sharing recipes, Wellness Wednesday, Think about it Thursday and Fitness Friday.

Meetings will be scheduled based on participants’ availability.

Yell County extension agent Rachel Chaney and Pope County extension agent Pamela Luker, both of whom specialize in family consumer sciences, are piloting the program and will co-host the online meetings. Participation is not limited to Yell and Pope counties — it’s open to anyone with diabetes or anyone living or caring for someone with diabetes.

“We wanted something that would be virtual so people could find encouragement from each other, especially as we are socially distancing,” Chaney said. “It will be a place where they can discuss and share recipes and strategies helpful to them for managing diabetes.”

Extension currently offers a year-round diabetes prevention training as well as a four-week Living with Diabetes curriculum through its Family and Consumer Sciences section.

“We will pull some information from those programs for our group meetings,” Luker added. “We’ll keep the meeting short and vary the topics each day, so participants will perhaps learn something new or be motivated to try a new recipe or a new exercise.”

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.

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