ARCHIVED: Case study 7: Reducing health disparities related to diabetes: Lessons learned through the Canadian Diabetes Strategy Community-Based Program


Case Study 7: Strategic Engagement of Youth in Ethnocultural Communities on Diabetes Awareness - Youth Involvement to Increase Diabetes Awareness Within the Community

Lead Organization

  • Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC)

Key Partners

  • Projenesis Iberoamerican Organization Ottawa
  • National Council of Jamaicans and Supportive Organizations in Canada
  • Chinese Canadian National Council
  • Ottawa Community Housing Corporation South District
  • Association for Canadian Studies
  • Christian Cultural Association of South Asians
  • The Canadian Diabetes Association
  • The Canadian Ethnic Media Association


  • Public Health Agency of Canada

Target Group

  • Asian (Chinese, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese), Black (including Caribbean) and Hispanic (Spanish-speaking from South and Central America) youth aged 15-24; families of these youth; and their health providers


  • Communities across Canada


Today, more children and youth than ever before are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and facing long-term problems associated with the disease. Results from a study carried out by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto showed a steady increase of type 2 diabetes among children 18 years and younger between 1994 and 2002, with an over-representation of African-Canadian and Southeast Asian children. Unfortunately, there are limited diabetes programs available to meet the needs of this population.

Through this project, the Canadian Ethnocultural Council worked to improve awareness of type 2 diabetes among ethnic youth, their families and their communities. Specifically, "Strategic Engagement of Youth in Ethnocultural Communities on Diabetes Awareness" focused on primary prevention of type 2 diabetes in youth from ethnocultural communities at high risk of diabetes (African, Asian and Hispanic descent).


During the course of one year, youth and those working with youth from various ethnocultural communities participated in three main activities:

  • Local Focus Group Consultations—to assess community awareness of type 2 diabetes in youth. Focus groups were carried out in five Canadian provinces, with the participation of 234 individuals;
  • A National Symposium—to provide background data on type 2 diabetes in youth and strategies for prevention gained from experts in the fields of medicine, dietetics and sports (66 participants); and
  • A One-Day National Community Briefing—provided the opportunity to share information from consultations with youth, communities, health practitioners and ethnic media. It also provided a venue to develop appropriate strategies for distribution and dissemination of the three resources developed based on input from consultations and the symposium (see Resources section, below).

The project provided youth with information required to educate members of their communities and families about diabetes and diabetes prevention. Prior to attending, participants were clearly advised of the expectations to take action after the symposium. The approach each participant took was unique.


Individual program participants and organizations provided input through a detailed evaluation survey. A total of 50 surveys were completed. Telephone interviews were also conducted with 6 key informants.


  • 88% of respondents indicated that their awareness of type 2 diabetes had increased as a result of the information they received from the three resources (see below).
  • 62% of respondents stated that the project findings have motivated them to increase their physical activity level.
  • 64% of respondents stated that due to participation in the program, they have reduced their consumption of foods containing sugar, fat and salt.
  • At the time of the survey, the information from the resources had already been shared with 576 youth and 1,723 adults.
  • 76% of respondents stated that the project had a positive effect on their communities as well as on family and friends.

Reaching the Population

  • This program relied in part on a network of existing partners and organizations working with ethnic youth. Youth participants were identified through these partners and organizations. Youth selected to attend were expected to communicate diabetes information learned to their respective communities.
  • By using age-appropriate methods, such as YouTube, and by engaging youth to develop diabetes messaging, this program was able to reach a substantial number of youth.

Lessons Learned

  • In order to maintain momentum and keep youth interested, there is a need for frequent and timely follow-up. This program was limited by time and resources, making the sustainability of the network difficult. Innovative strategies to ensure network sustainability are required.
  • Participation in the follow-up survey was lower than anticipated. Two factors may have contributed to low participation:
    • Community organizations involved in this program relied on volunteers and/or limited staff, making it difficult to fulfill the time demand required to carry out the follow-up evaluation.
    • Many organizations were not active in the summer, when the work was carried out. In future, the timing and length of the evaluation, as well as the time given to participants to complete the evaluation, need careful attention.

"Identify appropriate leaders and individuals in the community or within community organizations to support your project."

Project Coordinator


CEC developed four key resources:

  • Community Awareness Report;
  • Demographic Analysis; and
  • Resource Guide.; and
  • A YouTube video.

Focused on youth, these resources provide information on minimizing modifiable risk factors for developing diabetes, primary prevention strategies, and details about ways to meet the challenges of primary prevention. In addition, the resources contain a listing of cookbooks, meal planning guides, a glossary that defines common terms in the area of type 2 diabetes prevention, and a list of useful and reliable websites.

The resources and video can be accessed at:

For additional information:
Canadian Ethnocultural Council
E-mail :

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