Free workshops offer lessons in coping with chronic illness


During the last session of the Wellness Workshop for Living with Chronic Diseases and Illnesses, participant Virginia Williams discusses concerns about dealing with prescriptions and physicians with facilitator Joyce Page of Durham County Department of Public Health Department.    -- Photo Courtesy of Brittney Cherry

During the last session of the Wellness Workshop for Living with Chronic Diseases and Illnesses, participant Virginia Williams discusses concerns about dealing with prescriptions and physicians with facilitator Joyce Page of Durham County Department of Public Health Department.
(Photo courtesy of Brittney Cherry)

March 20th ended six weeks of free workshops for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. The Wellness Workshops for Chronic Diseases and Illnesses tackled subjects such as nutrition, appropriate use of medications, and techniques to deal with fatigue, pain and isolation.

The workshops are sponsored by Durham County’s Department of Public Health, and held at the Stanford L. Warren Library on Fayetteville Street. The program began in 2008, funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb to support people with diabetes and related conditions.

“The program has been a catharsis for me,” said Omega Curtis Parker, who joined the workshop in February. “The program let’s me know that I am aware of my conditions and it reassures me that I am doing what I need to do to be healthier as well as help me learn other things that I need to do to take care of these issues.”

She said people should take advantage of the program because they may realize that what they have is minor to others.

During the six weeks of the program, participants gained not only information on living a healthier life, but also developedfriendships to support them through it.

“It is important to have these workshops for Durham because there are many people here living with chronic health conditions,”said Joyce Page, a Public Health Education Specialist for the Department of Health.

Facilitator Michael Scott, with the Durham County Department of Public Health Department, gives insight on "Steps Toward Positive Thinking" for the last session of the Wellness Workshop for Living with Chronic Diseases and Illnesses. --    Photo Courtesy of Brittney Cherry.

Facilitator Michael Scott, with the Durham County Department of Public Health Department, gives insight on “Steps Toward Positive Thinking” for the last session of the Wellness Workshop for Living with Chronic Diseases and Illnesses.
(Photo courtesy of Brittney Cherry)

She said several people in the program have lost weight and now rely on fewer prescriptions.

Although the workshops are designed for 10 to 18 adults, Durham only hosts the workshops if at least 10 people register.

“We normally hold the sessions in churches or the library and people are able to find out about them through word of mouth or flyers at the library,” said Michael Scott, a Public Health Education Specialist.

He said the workshops are scheduled at the request of community groups.

“There is no set schedule to when we have the programs,” Scott said.

The program “has me moving and wanting to learn,” said Amelia Thorpe, who also joined the program in February.

“The people and the participation is my favorite part of the workshops,” she said.

Some people who attended the workshops intend to join the next program, which will focus on diabetes.

“I don’t have diabetes, but being in this program gives me the urge to learn more about it,” said Virginia Williams, participant of the program. “This is free information and I want others to use it too.”

Brittney is an NCCU student and a writer-photographer for the Durham VOICE.


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