Today kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15), a celebration established in 1968 to recognize the important contributions Hispanic and Latino Americans have made in the United States and to honor their heritage and culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month is truly important to Kristinia DeBarge, singer/actress and daughter of James DeBarge (singer from the group DeBarge), especially when it comes to her family’s health. Today Kristinia, who is part Latina, shares in her own words what this celebration means to her and how she is using her talents to help us Stop Diabetes®.
I’ve been influenced by diabetes my whole life. My grandmother lives with type 2 diabetes, and two of her siblings died from complications.
After the passing of my relatives, I began to recognize that type 2 diabetes has become an alarmingly common problem in the U.S., especially for Hispanics. You see, 12.8 percent of Hispanic Americans have diagnosed diabetes, compared to 7.6 percent of non-Hispanic Caucasians. This was truly a wake-up call for me. I remember thinking that diabetes was a disease that could affect me, too.
Growing up, I struggled with my weight as a consequence of bad eating habits, many of them triggered by the family stress of dealing with diabetes. Every day, I witnessed the strain diabetes put on my family emotionally, physically and financially. I knew I needed to put an end to that, to take the proper steps that would help me and my family members get on track toward better health and hopefully avoid more diabetes diagnoses.
This meant learning more about the disease and researching ways of my own to fight it. As a result, I turned my attention to diabetes education, awareness and prevention. Starting at a young age, I was able to lend my singing talents by performing at fundraisers. Today I am proud to be a Stop Diabetes Celebrity Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association and lending my support start with Hispanic Heritage Month.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Association is calling on those with type 2 diabetes to increase their physical activity and eat healthier to Stop Diabetes. Across the country, the Association will conduct activities showcasing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications.
I’ve seen the struggles diabetes can cause—not just in my family, but also from friends and people all over the world. So many have not let life with diabetes bring them down. Instead, they fight each day to manage their disease and live well. I’m so inspired by each and every one of you!
Life isn’t about giving up when the going gets tough. Life is too short, and we only have one—just one! To see and do all the things you’ve always dreamed of, you need to be healthy. And for many of us at risk, this means making some very important changes. For me, it meant altering my lifestyle completely by creating a workout routine and eating healthier foods. It feels great knowing I am being good to myself and my body.
Join me in the movement to Stop Diabetes today, so families and communities like mine can one day overcome this deadly disease.