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Jay Cutler Visits Auburn Gresham Students for Diabetes Screening Week

CHICAGO (May 15, 2012)—Organizing and revitalizing this vibrant community since 2001, the Greater Auburn-Gresham Community Development Corporation (GADC) teamed up with the Jay Cutler Foundation; MinuteClinic, a division of CVS Caremark; and University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center to improve the health of the neighborhood’s young people. This week, scores of students at Perspectives Charter Schools’ Calumet Campus received free diabetes screening in the school auditorium—as well as a personal visit from the Chicago Bears quarterback.

Cutler, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after his second season in the NFL, established his foundation to inspire and treat underprivileged children and those with diabetes. Through free screenings, public awareness events and support of local charities, Cutler hopes to raise the profile of the disease and help those affected by it.

“I want youth in Chicago to be inspired and know they can achieve their goals and dreams,” said Cutler.  “Kids and parents should know that having diabetes is nothing to be embarrassed about. With early detection and treatment, kids don’t have to let diabetes slow them down."

Affecting 17 percent of all children nationwide and its prevalence rapidly increasing in Chicago, diabetes presents a looming health threat to neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham.

“More than 215,000 youth [nationally] have already been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes,” said Tobias Barker, vice president of medical operations, MinuteClinic. “Though this program, MinuteClinic and other coalition members can help a group of children on Chicago’s South Side whose diabetes might otherwise go undiagnosed or untreated until serious health complications result.”

More than 100 Perspectives students, ages 12-18, will be screened during the in-school testing week, May 14-18, by volunteers from the University of Illinois Hospital. Students identified as “at-risk” for diabetes will undergo a screening that includes measuring height, weight, body mass index and blood glucose levels. If diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, students will be referred to the University of Illinois Hospital or Access Community Health Network for follow-up care at no charge.

Approached earlier this year by the Cutler Foundation and long-time partner CVS about a childhood diabetes awareness campaign, GADC sees the diabetes awareness week as a natural extension of its ongoing series of community health fairs, also sponsored by CVS. This pilot program, facilitated by GADC, will serve as a model for the Cutler Foundation’s expansion of diabetes testing to other Chicago neighborhoods. 

“GADC recognizes that the health and the education of Auburn Gresham children are fundamentally linked,” said Carlos Nelson, GADC executive director. “Partners like the Cutler Foundation and CVS Caremark allow us to help influence the lives of young people in positive, healthy ways.” 

Through its holistic slate of community activities in Auburn Gresham, GADC has built deep relationships with both public and charter schools in the community, including Westcott Elementary, Oglesby Elementary, Simeon Career Academy and Perspectives Middle Academy. Organizers deemed the school-based diabetes screening model a particularly good fit for Perspectives, one of Chicago’s five Elev8 schools. Functioning on the national Elev8 model, Perspectives emphasizes the connection between health and education. Elev8 schools are supported nationally by Atlantic Philanthropies and locally by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago). GADC facilitates the Elev8 program at Perspectives as part of its comprehensive support of the neighborhood.

An innovative school based health center, run by Access Community Health Network, provides students with quality health services, free of charge. Educational programs and on-site services at Perspectives, managed by GADC, span all aspects of physical and mental health, from nutrition and exercise to hygiene and dental care to mental health and psycho-social development.

Such efforts by Elev8 and GADC have seen wide success, including raising the rate of compliance with physicals and immunization requirements among Perspectives students to 100 percent. School-based health programs and extended day programming have been so successful, in fact, that large parts of the Elev8 model are being replicated in CPS elementary and middle schools. GADC hopes that the diabetes awareness week will have similar success on the health and education of young people—with benefits beyond the schoolyard in Auburn Gresham.


About Elev8:

With support from LISC Chicago, Elev8 seeks to transform the educational achievement and life outcomes of disadvantaged middle school students in five Chicago schools – Ames, Marquette, Orozco, Perspectives and Reavis. Elev8 Chicago envisions these young people graduating from 8th grade ready to make the important choices of adolescence. They will possess a fire for learning, healthy bodies and minds and the support required to succeed in high school and beyond.  Elev8 Chicago graduates will enjoy both the skills and the prospects needed for solid careers and fulfilling lives.

About Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp.:

The Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC) works to foster and promote revitalization of the low-to-moderate income Chicago neighborhoods by utilizing comprehensive community development strategies and initiatives. These communities include all or parts of Auburn Gresham, Englewood, West Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing.

GADC receives support from many sources and contributors including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago (LISC/Chicago), the MacArthur Foundation, the City of Chicago’s Departments of Housing and Economic Development, State of Illinois, and local private & financial institutions.

Keywords: Chicago Bears, CVS Caremark, CVS Minute Clinic, Diabetes, Jay Cutler

Posted in Community Highlights


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