The Cigna Foundation has awarded a $94,800 World of Difference grant to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation in Winston-Salem, NC, for Project CARE, the Congregational Approach to Risk Reduction and Empowerment. Project CARE will work to lower the incidence of diabetes through comprehensive wellness services and lifestyle modifications to underserved individuals in high-risk areas of the city.
Through a partnership with Winston-Salem State University and the Gateway YWCA, Novant Health will collaborate with African-American congregations in three zip codes (27101, 27105 and 27107), which are home to many low-income, minority residents. Faculty, staff and students at the University have introduced Project CARE to pastors and wellness committees to kick off the program.
“Our grant to Novant Health Foundation Forsyth Medical Center is a shining example of how we support community health navigation, helping to eliminate health disparities in communities nationwide by addressing the needs of the underserved,” said David Figliuzzi, executive director of Cigna Foundation.
Early interviews with Project CARE participants indicate that 85 percent perceive themselves as overweight, 62 percent report no regular physical activity, and 35 percent report a family history of cardiovascular disease. Of the original group of individuals interviewed, only seven percent fell in the normal range of body mass index. Elevated A1C levels indicated that 60 percent have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The project will enroll approximately 300 individuals at-risk of diabetes in an intensive, 12-week program, which will include weekly group education/exercise sessions, individualized coaching, grocery store tours, cooking classes and access to the Gateway YWCA workout facility. Staff will track participants’ progress at six-month intervals.
Project CARE also will work closely with more than 20 congregations to promote healthy behaviors and share information about health care resources in the community. These congregations number more than 5,000 members, and Project CARE plans to expand its reach by adding congregations and enrolling participants in the comprehensive wellness program in the future.
“Winston-Salem is fortunate to have a range of wellness programs, but most do not offer a comprehensive continuum of services, nor do they provide the means to access those services,” said Novant Health Director of Community Wellness and Education Karen Sigmon-Smith. “Novant Health, Cigna, Winston-Salem State University, the Gateway YWCA and leaders in the faith community comprise the remarkable team that it takes to instill lifelong health behavior change to improve outcomes among our most vulnerable, high-risk neighborhoods.”
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About the Cigna Foundation
The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.