Tara Westmore, an educator in North Carolina who has earned several awards and is an expert on diabetes education, has been able to receive a $1,000 grant to create a new certification program.
Westmore, who graduated from Clemson University in 2016, is the founder of the Certified Diabetes Educators Program (CDEP) and has been working with educators across the country to establish a national curriculum that focuses on the importance of educating students about diabetes.
Westover, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, says she is excited to see the program’s success.
“I’ve been working in education and nutrition for a long time and it’s really exciting to see a community coming together to make something new,” Westmore said.
“It’s something we can all be proud of.”
“As a nutritionist, I can say that there are some amazing things about the diabetes education community,” West said.
“I’m a certified diabetic educator, so I’m really passionate about the education of kids and adults with diabetes and I’m very excited to help build this curriculum.”
The CDP is a partnership between Clemson University, the US Department of Education, and the National Association of Certified Diabetes Instructors (NACDI).
It is a national program with a goal of bringing the most advanced, proven methods of nutrition to students of all ages.
“We’ve done this for a few years now, but I think it’s only been about five years,” West told ABC News.
“This is the first time that we’re really taking on this big challenge and really focusing on what really matters and what is the most important to students.”
The group’s goal is to create the world’s best diabetes education curriculum that provides the knowledge, tools and information that helps all students become better educated.
West said she hopes the program will help educate students in every corner of the country.
“The key thing is we need to get more kids to have this education because this is what we want our kids to be doing, and that’s nutrition,” West added.
“We want them to be learning about nutrition and diabetes, we want them learning about the medical side of diabetes and how it affects your body, how it impacts your relationships with your family and friends and health.”
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with the National Institutes of Health, and I think that’s a great opportunity for us to get this curriculum out there,” she said.
West has worked with many colleges and universities in her career, but she’s particularly excited to work on a new collaboration with the Clemson University School of Public Health.
“That’s an incredible institution and I can’t wait to share it with all of you,” West shared.
West’s team has been developing a curriculum that addresses topics such as nutrition, diabetes, nutrition education, and nutrition science.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is the lack of high school curriculums that address diabetes,” she explained.
“When you’re teaching kids about diabetes, the first thing they’re going to learn is how to live without diabetes and what to do with their food.”
“They need to know that it’s not a lifestyle that is unhealthy,” West continued.
“They need education that’s not just about what to eat, but how to manage their own health.
They need to learn that there’s a lot of different ways to lose weight and exercise and that it all works.”
The certification program, which is still in its infancy, is aimed at the young, health-conscious.
It aims to introduce students to nutrition, and includes topics such, exercise, exercise nutrition, exercise behavior, and dieting.
The curriculum focuses on teaching students how to maintain their health and help them achieve goals for weight loss, fitness, and eating healthfully.
“The curriculum is based on a diet plan that’s based on what I do as an adult, but it’s also about what I’m learning in my own life,” West explained.
West is currently working with the College of Engineering to implement the curriculum in their undergraduate students.
“All of our students are in our classes now, and they’re all in the program and they’ve seen a difference,” she shared.
“Students have been very responsive and they say they really like it.”
The first class of students is currently taking part in a three-week course, which teaches the curriculum.
West says they hope to have the program available to students across the nation in the fall of 2019.
“They’re all going to have to go through the same process as I did,” West stressed.
“There’s a process that we have to do to get the curriculum up and running, but we really want them there and ready to take it and learn.”ABC News reached out to the Clemson School of Medicine for comment on the CDP, but they did not immediately respond.