Put your hands up! Who likes to dance?

Good, you're in.

Even if all you've done till now is watch those popular dance shows on TV, you're still in.

Because Dance Out Diabetes is a new 501c non-profit organization designed to help prevent and manage diabetes through local dance events.  Starting out in San Francisco, and soon to expand nationwide, the idea is to invite people with diabetes and at-risk for it, along with their family and friends, to regular dance afternoons — "shake your bon-bon to different types of music" — complete with "a little education and support, and a lot of fun."

Dance Out Diabetes (or DOD — not to be confused with the Dept. of Defense) will be launched this year on World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2010, at the Metreon center in San Francisco, with subsequent events scheduled around the city on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 1-4 pm. Soon thereafter, DOD plans to launch online component encouraging similar DOD "dance-outs" all over the country.

{The DanceOutDiabetes.org website isn't live yet, but you can visit them on Facebook}

Each session will feature a dance instructor skilled in a different genre of music, so people will have the chance to "free dance to many different styles of music, regardless of their ability." Personal health metrics will also be measured at each event, with CDEs on hand to give individuals professional feedback. The CDEs will also answer questions and be at the ready to assist in the event of a low blood glucose.

And of course, there will be food. "We will offer nutritional tips based on the dance instructor's musical focus. For example, when the instructor does a Zumba lesson, we may have a handout on how to eat Mexican Food without sending your glucose to the Moon," says Theresa Garnero, the San Francisco-based ueber-CDE who's founded DOD.

{Cost to the public, btw, will be determined on a sliding scale - $10 general adult admission; $5 for participants with economic challenges (show your Medicare Card or EBT food stamp card to qualify); $3 for children ages 7-18; and free for kids under 7. All ages and relative dance abilities are welcome!}

Garnero is a preeminent authority on diabetes and also a profilic diabetes cartoonist, former jazz pianist and a national hopeful figure skater. I kid you not. She's a really energetic lady who knows how to inject some fun into even the most frustrating disease state (!) Her approach to diabetes education always includes humor, because "laughing improves glucose control, except when eating french fries...," she says.

"We're aiming to provide a place where people can go and dance in a good, diabetes-friendly environment. The goal is to get people moving in a way and place they enjoy. When you look at what's missing (in diabetes care), it's exercise. Why? Because it's drudgery and there's not enough time. We want to create dance halls for all ages, kids to adults, where the music changes periodically," Garnero says.

DOD's is Theresa's vision, over two years in the making.  She's now gathered an impressive panel of medical professionals and patient supporters to help out with DOD. Some names you might recognize are Sheri Colberg-Ochs, expert author on diabetes & exercise; Dawn Swidorski of the Defeat Diabetes Foundation; and Jennifer Dorn of aDorn Designs.

I spoke with Dawn Swidorski on the phone the other day to clarify a few things:

What will the online component look like?

"We'd like to add a social networking element, with downloadable playlists and videos, either streaming or as podcast, so people can dance along. We're looking at potential collaboration with organizations that provide online dance video.  We're also busy identifying like-minded dance organizations here in the Bay Area to help us incorporate different styles, different types of dance."

So you're not worried this will become a senior program only? How will you attract younger people?

"We were very encouraged by a recent JDRF fundraising event we attended called Thriving 2010! It was hosted by former prima ballerina Zippora Karz. It was dance-focused, attended mostly young people, type 1's, and they were really getting into it."

Will there be any kind of a dance competition component?

"One thing I want to do is a video dance competition where people will upload videos of themselves doing their thing. One thing that's pretty sure is that we'll host a dance marathon soon as fundraising event — you know, the old-fashioned who can last longest? Like the in movie, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Only not that extreme {chuckles}"

I guess I'm thinking So You Think You Can Dance. Will all those various dance styles be represented here too?

"Well, we're not sure. You maybe can't get into heavy ballroom stuff because you need a partner. Not sure how that's going to pan out. Def encouraging fam to come, great opp for families to come together & learn more about living healthy."

"We're still working out the kinks. We actually need all of your help in figuring out the best way to structure it: Do people mostly want free dance or dance instruction? Please give us feedback by filling their quick online survey here.

So do you have a slogan of somesort?

"Diabetes can be very gloomy sometimes... dance makes everybody feel better."

If you're interested in volunteering, fundraising, making a tax deductible donation, or otherwise getting involved, contact Theresa Garnero at staff@danceoutdiabetes.org (Oh, and vendors are invited to sponsor display booths at the kick-off event).

Be here for World Diabetes Day 2010? Then I'll see ya on the dance floor!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.