At Palmetto Health in Columbia, South Carolina, Shawnee is project coordinator for the Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle intervention designed to help delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The hospital has identified one large section of Richland County — where rates of diabetes-related health problems are especially high — as a focus area. The Duke Endowment awarded Palmetto Health a $270,000 grant in 2015 to reach more people.
Shawnee recruits participants through free screenings at churches, grocery stores, neighborhood centers and laundromats. Behind pulpits and podiums, she explains how the program has been proven to work.
The target is to enroll 150 people annually over three years. Participants receive gym memberships, consultations with a registered dietician, and other services to help prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
At weekly sessions in the community, Shawnee encourages them to choose nutritious food, maintain a healthy weight, keep physically active, and manage their stress. She’s a trained lifestyle coach, an advocate for positive change.
She shares her own battles with exercise; her own weakness for high-calorie comfort food. With her family history, Shawnee knows that she’s also at risk for developing the disease.