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Chronic Illness Program Sets Out To Empower Rural Health Advocates

Wyoming Center On Aging

An upcoming Laramie workshop will work to empower people dealing with chronic disease. The Wyoming Center on Aging (WyCOA) at the University of Wyoming adopted Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and called the program “Healthy U.”

Wyoming will be the fiftieth state to offer the program.

WyCOA Associate Director Catherine Carrico said the state has higher than average rates of many chronic conditions, including arthritis and diabetes. The six-week long workshops will include tools to help people learn more about nutrition, exercise, and emotional therapies to deal with the frustration and fatigue of any chronic illness.

“We have a number of folks in the state who are dealing with these chronic conditions,” said Carrico. “Their loved ones and families are dealing with these chronic conditions and having some support and building some skills to manage and really take control of their health could be really useful.”

The program uses a peer-leader model—Stanford-certified Master Trainers teach community members how to become workshop leaders. That way, workshop leaders are able to expand the program in to other parts of the state.

The workshop is already offered in Jackson, Sheridan and Cheyenne, and will soon be available in Sundance, Buffalo, Basin, Casper, Ethete, and Powell.

“As we train peer leaders in additional communities, we really just hope the momentum builds,” Carrico said. “We hope that the program spreads to even smaller communities that might not have a lot of healthcare resources.”

The upcoming workshop in Laramie will begin November 1. It will take place every Tuesday evening from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the University of Wyoming Union Room 002. There is also an upcoming leader training in Thermopolis October 25-28, from 9 to 4 p.m.

To register, contact Dominick Duhamel at dduhamel@uwyo.edu or (307)766-2765. 

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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