Black-led community center aims to address diabetes health disparities in Minnesota

Room of people at tables
The "Better Together" initiative kicked off with free health screenings at Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. People met with providers who checked their blood pressure and screened for diabetes risk factors. The event included free A1c testing, insurance referrals and information on local health resources.
Feven Gerezgiher | MPR News

The Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis kicked off its “Better Together” initiative on Saturday, a collaboration with the Hue-Man Partnership and United Healthcare, designed to address health disparities in diabetes care and prevention.

Black adults are more than twice as likely as white adults to develop diabetes, with increased likelihood of hospitalization and other serious conditions, according to the American Health Association.

Scott Redd, president and CEO of Sabathani, said the partnership aims to change that.

“We can’t control things that are hereditary, but we can control how folks eat, the access and awareness that folks get to exercise and to eating healthy,” Redd said.

On the first floor of Sabathani on Saturday, the initiative launched with a health screening where people could check their blood pressure, get their blood sugar tested and receive insurance referrals. Volunteers also helped connect participants to other needed help.

Redd said the goal is for programming to expand to include classes at Sabathani on healthy eating and physical fitness — like line dancing or pickleball — in partnership with the YMCA.

The organization will hire a community health navigator to engage participants at least weekly and ensure they receive support.

Sabathani is one of Minnesota's oldest African-American nonprofits, and serves about 150,000 people a year, most of whom are people of color or low-income.