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Johnston Health surpasses Derailing Diabetes goal

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FOUR OAKS — By the end of a March 21 assembly, third-graders at Four Oaks Elementary had learned that adopting healthy habits such as snacking on fruits and vegetables and being physically active could prevent them from getting Type 2 diabetes.

In a quiz that followed a short lesson, they booed the breakfast pastries and cheered on the oatmeal. Thumbs down on playing video games; thumbs up on skateboarding.

Jaime Pearce of Smithfield, a corporate health consultant with Johnston Health’s WellnessWorks program, has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was diagnosed at age 12. A mother of two and a career health educator, she talked with students about healthy lifestyles and the harmful effects of the disease.

The visit was the culmination of Johnston Health’s year-long “Derailing Diabetes” initiative to reach 20,000 people across the county with information on prevention and disease management. An outreach team drew from the hospital’s education, marketing and communications departments and involved nurse volunteers at screenings during festivals and community events.

By March 19 which was national Diabetes Alert Day, the team had connected with more than 38,000 people and an additional 49,000 through social media. Even the school principal, Kathy Parrish, joined the effort. In front of the students, she got her blood sugar checked, and the students cheered at her healthy number.