Health. Fitness. Eating habits. Diabetes.
K. Bruce Simmons, internist at SUNY Upstate Medical University, discussed them all at the “Churches Against Diabetes” seminar hosted April 30 at the New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ, 1641 S. Salina St. The seminar was part of a rotation of community health seminars and discussions within local Syracuse churches provided by the Genesis Health Project Network.
Partnered with the minority health initiative and the College of Human Ecology at Syracuse University, the Genesis Project is designed to provide informational meetings, seminars, and presentations for minorities in the city of Syracuse, on ways to help them make better everyday health decisions.
Dr. Vennie Cowart, executive director of the Genesis Project and associate professor of practice at SU’s College of Human Ecology, introduced Simmons and talked briefly about the project’s mission.
“There’s a need here (on the South Side),” Cowart said. “It doesn’t matter where you live.”
Right now, the project is focused on diabetes and ways to prevent it. Simmons’ presentation focused on how people can recognize symptoms of diabetes, reasons people get the disease and nutritional advice. Among the tips: Eat slowly and avoid foods with high amounts of sodium and fat.
“I think the message that we are trying to deliver is to encourage people to make some lifestyle changes,” Simmons said. “Sometimes people are so far along in the disease process, you can’t make as much of an impact as you would like to make.”
About 15 to 25 listeners sat and asked questions throughout the seminar. The response to these events is usually pretty good, Simmons said.
“You always hope that someone that is here at one of these events will carry the message to a family member, a friend, or someone like that,” Simmons said. “The job will get done somehow.”
Reverend James T. Jones, pastor of the New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ, attended the event and was one of the original pastors with the Genesis Project when it first began. Jones hopes that the program will continue to flourish and provide a connection between SU and churches on the South Side.
“One of our heritages as African-Americans was always the church,” Jones said. “I think it is the strongest identity we have here on the South Side. That’s why I think this program of Genesis is so good, because it is targeted to the church.”