Johnson County Health Department to host diabetes prevention walks

The Johnson County Health Department will host one of four diabetes prevention walks this Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m. at the Paintsville Lake Kiwanis Trail.

The Johnson County Health Department will be hosting a series of four diabetes prevention walks for the third year in a row. According to a statement released by JCHD, the “walks are free to the public and the first 100 Johnson County residents to arrive the day of the walk will receive a free T-shirt. Adult bicycles and Fitbits will be given away as door prizes at each walk. This is not a race and there is no mandatory distance to walk. Johnson County Health Department will also be sharing diabetes prevention information and offering BMI and glucose testing. There will also be an informational session about our Diabetes Prevention Program after each walk.”

The program’s lifestyle coach and event organizer, Mary Beth Castle of the JCHD, said the main purpose of the walks is to make people aware that pre-diabetes is a major concern.

“We know that this is a big problem in the U.S., and it is an even bigger problem in Kentucky,” she said. It is even more substantial of a problem in Eastern Kentucky or the Appalachian part of Kentucky.

“We have, in Kentucky, according to the last CDC report, almost 150,000 people in Kentucky that are pre-diabetic and they don’t know,” she continued.

During the walk, the JCHD will team up with Big Sandy Healthcare of Prestonsburg to offer free A1C testing, blood pressure screening, BMI screening, and weight screening for participants 16 and up.

“Even though anybody can come to the walks, we are trying to find, in those people that participate, individuals that are unaware they are diabetic and there A1C falls between a 5.7 and a 6.4,”said Castle. “If it does, that tells them that they are pre-diabetic. This is an awareness event,” she said. ”We do it as a walk to try to promote the importance of fitness or physical activity, but it also is an opportunity for me as the Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle coach, to let people be aware of the dangers of pre-diabetes and how we can go about helping that. We are actually certified through the CDC. That’s always a feather in our cap and we hope to stay there, but one of the ways we are able to do that is that we have to reach a certain number of people and get them to participate in our program.”

For Castle, the program’s success is personal as well as professional.

“It just so happened that I fell into this job, and it kind of just rolled right with what was going on in my life at the time,” she said. “I had been told that I was pre-diabetic and I weighed 202 pounds. And so my siblings are both type 2 diabetics, and my Mom and Dad both are. So it was kind of like an eye-opener to me. I knew I needed to do something. I knew I needed to lose weight, but I didn’t know a lot about the program. I had honestly never heard of it. I have made it my mission since I’ve gotten here to let everybody know my story. It’s not like I’m sitting here talking as someone who has no clue what someone is going through. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”

The first of the “Fall into Fitness” walks will take place this Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Paintsville Lake Kiwanis Trail beginning at 8:30 a.m., followed by walks on Aug. 31, Sep. 21, and Sep. 28, alternating between the Kiwanis Trail and the Paintsville Recreation Center track.

For more information on the events, contact Mary Beth Castle at, (606)-789-2590, maryb.castle@ky.gov or at the Johnson County Health Department’s Facebook page.

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