Diabetes Empowerment Education Program


Mountain-Pacific Quality Health invites anyone with diabetes or high blood sugar (pre-diabetes) to join them for a series of free classes that provides tips and information about how to take control of diabetes.

In this series of six classes, participants will learn about:
• How diabetes affects people—both physically and emotionally
• How to find healthy eating habits while still enjoying food
• How to be safely active all year
• How to develop skills and action plans for staying healthy
• How to be an effective member of their health care team with their doctors, health care providers, and diabetes educators

Take charge of your health and control diabetes! Play these fun and educational activities to learn more about healthy eating, diabetes, and your body!


Click on a city below to find out more information on their Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP)TM!

Billings           Anaconda            Townsend                 Lewistown                Scobey

Learn more about the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program here!

Interested in becoming a trained diabetes educator? Click here!


For more information please contact Melonie Van Dyke Phone: 406-457-5819 Email: mvandyke@mpqhf.org

or Stephanie Paugh Phone: (406) 320-2106 Email: spaugh@mpqhf.org


Profile of the Week: Strong Women

Strong Women

The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Women begin to show decline in muscle mass beginning at age 30 and if this condition is not reversed, women will have reduced strength and other severe consequences as they age. Women need to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass at all ages for optimal health through weight lifting two or more times per week,  but only 17.5% of women meet these recommendations. The Strong Women program, developed by Tufts University, is designed for women to increase muscle strength by strength training for 2-3 sessions per week for fourteen weeks. This strength training program is now being offered through MSU Extension offices in Montana, and the results have been inspiring.  Participation, improved functional strength and balance, and a strong sense of camaraderie and achievement are positive outcomes for Montana’s rural women. These trainings are conducted by Extension educators who have been certified to teach Strong Women programs.

About Strong Women:
The StrongWomen™  program is an evidence-based strength training program developed by the staff of  the Hancock Center at the Friedman School at Tufts University. The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Who should attend trainings:
* Professional and community leaders who are working with a non-profit and are interested in the fields of public health, nutrition and exercise or wellness should attend.

* Potential program leaders should be regularly lifting weights/strength training, be in good physical health, and be able to collaborate with local agencies or organizations to provide the Strong Women program in their community.


For a list of all locations and contact information, click here


CRL Health and Fitness

Fitness classes specifically designed with Plains Tribal People in mind.

While working to become a medical doctor, Lita Pepion began to realize that many of the health problems in Indian Country result from human behaviors and cannot be “fixed” by IHS doctors.  Lita realized that the knowledge and motivation of Native people on Indian reservations as it relates to fitness and basic health information was minimal.  With the understanding that personal choices have a great impact on our health, Lita formed CRL Health & Fitness, LLC in 1999.   Empowering Native People to believe that they can be healthier and that health involves personal choices and motivation is the core mission of CRL.  Everyone has the intelligence to learn all we can about our own health and how we can protect and improve it.

With the involvement and support from Billings YMCA and various Tribal Health and Diabetes Prevention Programs, CRL provides the highest quality education, personal motivation, and technical assistance to community members throughout the Northern Plains.  Learning as much about health as possible, eating healthier foods, moving your body on a regular basis, reducing stress and paying attention to your feelings and actions are all ways to protect your health.  These positive lifestyle changes are very rewarding, but not always easy to make.  CRL offers professional help in the form of both group and one-on-one coaching to help those get started and stay on course.

CRL is natively owned and operated, featuring instructors who grew up on the reservation and experienced many of the same issues our people face today (poverty, violence, physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, substandard education, housing and healthcare) and successfully overcame those issues while maintaining cultural roots and Native Heritage.  Therefore the fitness classes are specifically designed with Plains Tribal People in mind, and are customizable to fit the needs of anyone.

CRL has trained numerous Native American Diabetes Prevention and Health Professionals on the importance of fitness to health; how to incorporate fitness into Native lifestyles and how to protect and improve health. In addition, CRL has educated numerous non-Natives on fitness with the intent of building a bridge between the two cultures by including information about Native culture and the importance of not assuming all Natives fit into the stereotypical Indian classification.  Many people have thanked the staff of CRL for their classes and for helping community members to start making healthier choices and live better!

For more information, please visit the website at: http://www.crlhealth.com/Home.html.


Reach Kidney Care


Reach Kidney Care is a chronic kidney disease educational (CKD) program. Reach provides group CKD education classes or education to individuals diagnosed with CKD-with a referral from their physician or healthcare provider.  The Reach team consists of: an RN, renal dietitian and social worker.  There is no fee for this educational service.  Reach Kidney Care is a division of DCI (Dialysis Clinic Incorporated).

DCI created a short film entitled Reach Across Montana. In this powerful film we get a glimpse of what living what chronic kidney disease is like through the stories of local Montanans.

Hope Mitchell, RN, BSN  is the Care Coordinator of the Reach Program in Billings, Montana. Hope has been serving people with kidney disease since 2003. Her passion is to empower people with more knowledge to make informed decisions.

Reach Brochure kidneys

Reach Kidney Care is a patient-centered program with a two-fold mission:

  • Reach people with kidney disease before they develop kidney failure, teaching them strategies to maintain their kidney function and complete health.
  • Provide education and support to those with kidney failure, preparing them for a safe and effective transition into the therapy of their choice.

You are at risk for kidney disease if you have:
High blood pressure
Heart disease
A family history of kidney disease

The only way to know if you have kidney disease is to get checked by your doctor.
Chronic kidney disease does not go away, but there are steps you can take to keep your kidneys working longer.
Source: National Kidney Foundation

Reach Brochure 1 in 9

To watch the RHI webinar, Taking Care of Your Kidneys, presented by Hope Mitchell, RN, BSN, click here

For more information about Reach Kidney Care Contact Contact:

Hope Mitchell, RN, BSN,  CKD Care Coordinator/Reach Kidney Care

Phone:406-252-9270 ext 4037

Email: mitchell@dciinc.org

Mailing Address: 2411 Village Lane, Billings, MT, 59102

AFHK Montana

Montana Action for Healthy Kids

Montana AFHK is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Montana’s children in schools and communities through nutrition and physical activity where children learn, participate in, and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Montana Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK), a subcommittee of the national Action for Healthy Kids initiative, is a statewide coalition dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Montana’s children in schools and communities through nutrition and physical activity where children learn, participate in, and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors.  The goal of Montana AFHK is to provide simple, positive, consistent messages about nutrition and physical activity, while increasing physical activity opportunities for school aged children.  Creating parent-led projects at school and community levels and involving parents in creating healthier school and community environments for kids has led to increased support for healthy kids.  To share ideas and healthy lifestyle tips to parent and partner organization, Montana AFHK leads parent-focused presentations, develops and distributes educational materials, provides health training to teachers, and awards mini-grant programs to support nutrition and physical activity programs.  Montana AFHK also provides support to partner’s activities such as Big Sky Fit Kids.  In addition, Montana AFHK provides support to three local teams that have been created in Billings, Great Falls, and Helena to advocate for change at the local level.

For more information, please visit http://www.eatrightmontana.org/eatrightafhk.htm

or the national AFHK website at http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/

MT CVD and Diabetes Prevention Program logo

Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program

Diverse Montana Communities Deliver Lifestyle Change Program to Prevent Diabetes

Since 2008, Montana communities have been helping prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease among adults at high risk through the Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program (CVDDPP).  The 10-month CVDDPP is based upon research evidence that intensive lifestyle change can prevent or delay the development of diabetes by 58% among adults at high risk.1

Lifestyle coaches educate and motivate participants to develop and maintain healthier eating and physical activity habits, which lead to weight loss and control.  These lifestyle coaches are registered dietitians, registered nurses, cardiac rehabilitation nurses, and exercise specialists trained to deliver the CVDDPP.

Eligibility criteria for the CVDDPP are based upon risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Adults aged 18 years and over with a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2, medical clearance from a doctor, a commitment to lifestyle change, and one of the following may participate:

  • History of pre-diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, or impaired fasting glucose
  • History of gestational diabetes or birth to a baby weighing >9 lbs
  • High blood pressure (≥130/85 mmHg or treatment)
  • Dyslipidemia (triglycerides >150 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol >130 mg/dL or treatment, or HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL for men and <50 mg/dL for women)
  • A1C between 5.7% to 6.4%


In Montana, an estimated 185,000 adults over age 20 have pre-diabetes.3 The rate of diabetes reported by adult Montanans increased from 2.8% in 1990 to 7.0% in 2010.4  Based on these rates, it is estimated that nearly 70,000 adult Montanans have diagnosed diabetes.5  Over 8% of deaths in Montana are diabetes-related.6


Participating in the program is an effective way to slow these trends.  Over 2,000 Montanans have participated in the prevention program since it began in 2008.  Here are the average 10 month program results:

  • Weight loss of 15.4 lbs
  • Blood pressure reduction from 133/81 mmHg to 127/78 mmHg
  • LDL cholesterol reduction from 123 mg/dL to 119 mg/DL
  • HDL cholesterol increase from 49 mg/dL to 51 mg/dL
  • Fasting blood glucose reduction from 102 mg/dL to 97 mg/dL


Fourteen sites and four telehealth sites currently deliver the CVDDPP in communities designated8 as

  • Urban: Billings
  • Rural: Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Bozeman
  • Frontier: Libby, Choteau, Dillon, Baker, Colstrip, Ekalaka, Forsyth,  Miles City


Go to www.mtprevention.org to contact the site near you, read news and journal articles, and learn more.  For more information, contact Diane Arave, the Montana Diabetes Project Quality Improvement Specialist in Prevention, at darave2@mt.gov or (406) 444-0593.


References and Data Sources

1. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, Nathan DM; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group: Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002;346:393–402.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Diabetes Statistics, 2007 fact sheet. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2008.

4. Montana DPHHS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

5. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.

6. Montana DPHHS, Office of Vital Statistics.

7. Vanderwood KK, Hall TO, Harwell TS, Butcher MK, Helgerson SD. The Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup. Implementing a state-based cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention program. Diab Care 2010;33:2543–2545.

Billings Area Food Policy Council (BAFPC)

The Billings Area Food Policy Council (BAFPC) is a joint working group that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders (non-profit organizations, the City of Billings, food service personnel, healthcare providers, grocers, citizens, producers, etc.) to discuss and take action on issues surrounding food in the Billings area, from production to policies to accessibility.

What is a Food Policy Council?

A Food Policy Council brings together a diverse range of stakeholders (producers, food retailers, chefs, healthcare providers, service providers, policymakers, citizens, etc.) to discuss issues surrounding food including production, policies, and accessibility.  Many Food Policy Councils evaluate what local food issues exist in order to identify gaps and determine the best means to attain a greater level of food security in their area of focus, whether at a state, regional, or city level.

About the Billings Area Food Policy Council:

Since the fall of 2010, a Billings Area Food Policy Council (BAFPC) has been meeting monthly to collectively address issues relating to food security in Billings and neighboring communities.  The BAFPC has created a novel network resulting in greater communication and coordination between stakeholders at a grassroots level to increase overall access to food in the community, while promoting local food production (with an emphasis on organic growing methods). The BAFPC is committed to empowering the greater Billings area to enact change to increase access to and availability of sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious foods to all people at all times.

To date, the BAFPC has compiled and reviewed all available data regarding issues of food security; created a brochure detailing food access resources available; and created an interactive map highlighting locations of food deserts (neighborhoods with accessibility barriers to fresh foods) in Billings.

These resources can be found on the Council’s website (http://mt-billings.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=1701).

What’s New with the BAFPC:

BAFPC’s first community-wide event planned was in conjunction with the first National Food Day (http://www.foodday.org) called “Fresh Thoughts on Food in the Magic City.”  The primary goal of this forum was to raise awareness about many of the food issues within Yellowstone County that have discussed at lengths by the BAFPC, including promoting healthy eating, promoting local food production, increasing access to fresh foods, addressing hunger needs, and improving overall food security.

BAFPC’s Partner Organizations Include: Billings BackPack Meals Program, City/County Planning, City of Billings Community Development Division, Family Services, Inc., Gardens from Garbage, Montana FoodSecurity Council, Nutrition for the Future, Saint Andrew Community Garden, The Salvation Army, Sodexo, RiverStone Health, Yellowstone County Council on Aging, Yellowstone County Extension

For more information, please visit:


Or contact:

Hanna Noel, Agricultural & University Outreach Coordinator, The Salvation Army

406.245.4659    hanna.noel@usw.salvationarmy.org   

Jill Bunge, Agricultural & University Outreach Coordinator, The Salvation Army

406.245.4659  jillian.bunge@usw.salvationarmy.org 


Healthy By Design

Healthy By Design is an initiative marked by collaboration across all sectors of the community. Members intentionally and strategically influence the environment in which people live, work and play, with a focus on physical activity and nutrition.


Healthy By Design Mission:

To collaborate with partners across sectors of the community to promote and improve health.

Healthy By Design Vision:

Create a community that is healthy by design. Make the healthy choice the easy choice.
According to the CDC, healthy communities are those that are designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, learn, play, and worship. This includes the ability for every person to make choices among a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options. For example, neighborhoods that have streets and sidewalks built with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind provide an opportunity for residents to get physical activity into their daily commuting routine. However, often times the communities in which we live do not make the healthy option the easy choice. For instance, fast food is quick, convenient, and affordable but lacks necessary nutrients and is packed with fat, sugar, and calories. Diets high in fat and sugar contribute to the alarming rise in chronic diseases associated with obesity and overweight. Lifestyle factors — from changing diets to sedentary jobs and leisure-time activities — play a role but the way we plan and design our community is directly correlated with food availability and opportunities for daily physical activity.

Healthy By Design Background:

In 2005-06, 2010-11, and again in 2013-14, Alliance member organizations — Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health, and St. Vincent Healthcare — conducted a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and, with participation from the community, identified various health priorities that warranted improvement. In response to the initial 2006 assessment, the Alliance created Healthy By Design to address community-wide issues relating to health. Formation of the Healthy By Design Coalition brought together a valuable network of human assets: professionals with expertise in infrastructure; engineering and planning; the largest medical hub in a 500-mile radius; and a strong network of non-profits and community action groups. Work continues today.

Recent Work:

The most recent community health needs assessment and the current community health improvement plan are available on the website,www.healthybydesignyellowstone.org on the “about us” page. Driven by the community health needs assessment and improvement plan, current work is underway in the following areas: health equity, healthy weight, worksite wellness, event recognition and built environment.

Healthy By Design Healthy Weight Workgroup:

  • Focus on public usage of the 5-2-1-0 message, including providing materials to community, schools, and social and health service providers
  • Physician consultation on weight, including recording of BMI at primary care visits
  • Use of healthy weight plans, physical activity guides, nutrition guides (resources on website)
  • Promotion of motivational interviewing among clinical providers and other professionals

Healthy By Design Built Environment Workgroup:

  • Working on access issues, most recently worked with the City and community partners to pass a “Complete Streets” policy
  • Recently completed a “Complete Streets” Benchmark Report
  • Convening stakeholders to determine best collaboration model

Healthy By Design Healthy Equity Workgroup:

  • Gardeners’ Market addressing lack of access to fresh produce
  • Increasing leisure-time physical activity for women, while addressing barriers associated with gender, including appearance, caregiving, and safety
  • This includes a public class offering using a curriculum called Active Living Every Day

Healthy By Design Worksite Wellness Workgroup:

  • Provide free on-site worksite wellness assessments
  • Offer a number of resources and tools including nutrition guides, physical activity guides, catering guide and sample worksite wellness policies

Healthy By Design Recognition Program Workgroup:
The Recognition Program has four goals:

  1. To create a standard of excellence for events
  2. To encourage active living and healthy choices
  3. To educate event coordinators through expert guidance and recommendations
  4. To recognize events in Yellowstone County that promote healthy lifestyles

Event recognition includes:

  • Expert guidance and recommendations for planning your event
  • Event listing on the Healthy By Design website
  • Use of the Healthy By Design logo, banners, and educational materials at the event
  • Certificate of recognition
  • The satisfaction of making a positive impact on community health

For information please email: contact@healthybydesignyellowstone.org or visit www.healthybydesignyellowstone.org


Laurel Public Schools Wellness Program

Laurel Public School’s (LPS) Wellness Program’s mission is “to encourage and promote the well-being of our staff through education, prevention, and district-wide programs that provides opportunities which support improvement in the elements of overall health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, and financial.”

LPS Wellness program goals and objectives for 2012-2013 include:

  • Ensuring every LPS employee has an opportunity to participate in the wellness program.
  • Promoting an understanding of all elements of wellness.
  • Getting 100% of covered employees and spouses registered on the miBenefits/miCare system.
  • Increase utilization of miCare services to 60-70%.
  • Increase Health Assessment participation to 90% of employees and 70% of covered spouses.

The LPS Wellness Program began in 2004 with an annual health fair and health risk assessments.  Since that time, it has grown to a comprehensive program featuring many opportunities for employees and covered spouses to improve health through nutrition, exercise, stress-relief and financial wellness programs.  The annual health fair with free comprehensive blood screenings and flu shots along with health assessments continues to be the cornerstone of the wellness strategy.  The shining star of the LPS Wellness Program is their onsite miCare Clinic, now in its 4th year.  Three days a week the Clinic is manned by a physician or PA and a nurse.    Covered employees and their covered dependents can enjoy free doctor visits and annual physicals as well as free basic lab tests with no co-pay and no deductible.  There is also access to a miCare pharmacy offering free generic medications and name brand medications at a cost of $30 for a 90-day supply.

Additional free offerings include several onsite fitness classes, tap dance classes, financial fitness and stress-relief strategy programs, an annual walking competition, and bowling events.  Employees also enjoy free fruit and dark chocolate a couple of times a year as well as onsite visits from the Mammogram Bus, weekly chair massages for $1 per minute, and a rebate for first-time Weight Watcher participants.  Last but not least, employees have access to the Mayo Clinic health website.

For more information, visit the LPS website: http://www.laurel.k12.mt.us/domain/31



A nonprofit organization designed to help efforts to create and maintain trails in and around Billings’ communities 

BikeNet is a nonprofit, 501 c 3 organization whose mission is to promote a complete, community-wide trail system. To date, BikeNet has raised more than $350,000 from our signature event called Ales for Trails- a fun, lively brewfest with more than 50 local and regional microbrews, wine and local music.  Billings now has more than 37 miles of multi-use trails for people to walk, ride, run or skate.  Since 2003, BikeNet has contributed to the construction of these projects and continues its fundraising and advocacy activities to connect and develop our trail system.

trail riders

Many of the trail projects in Yellowstone County have used Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP) or other governmental funding sources that require a community match. BikeNet fills a critical role by providing some of the non-federal match needed. Since 2003, community match funds through BikeNet total just over $206,000 for nine trail projects. By providing matching funds for these projects our community has been able to build more than $3.3 million worth of multi-use trails. 
People having fun at Ales for Trails in Billings
Here’s a photo from last year’s Ales for Trails event.
We fund trail projects with money we earn from:
  • Ales for Trails- sponsorships and ticket sales
  • Donations
  • Endowments
  • Memberships
We work with planning agencies:
  • City Council, County Commission
  • City Planning
  • Healthy by Design
  • RiverStone Health
  • Billings Livability Partnership
  • Chamber Trails Committee
  • Safe Routes to School
We educate, promote and increase the use of trails by:
  • Distributing maps of the trails
  • Organizing trail tours
  • Helping to connect pedestrians and bicyclists with groups who use the trail system
  • Participating in Bike to Work/School Week, Get Outside Montana and Trail Trek
  • Attending health events and presenting to organizations
  • Participating in the Trail Census
We belong to several advocacy organizations which help fulfill our mission on a state or national level:
  • The Alliance for Biking and Walking
  • Bike Walk Montana
  • League of American Bicyclists
golden swords
Please consider joining us! You can become a member of BikeNet by following this link: http://bit.ly/XhZnBx 

You’re invited to Ales for Trails, called “the best party in Billings!” Sponsorships are now being accepted (online at http://bit.ly/XX6q42), and guests are welcome to buy tickets on the BikeNet website, at the Base Camp, or any Billings area bike shop. Tickets go on sale September 1.

You can learn more about BikeNet and our programs by visiting our website at: