Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center

Message from Magdalena Nava, Acting Director

In the arena of public health and community development, there may be no better example of theory wedded to practice than the Greater Humboldt Park Community Diabetes Empowerment Center (DEC). In part resource library, fitness center, cooking school, meeting house, and even refuge from inclement weather, the DEC grew out of a 2006 study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute which revealed that a staggering 21% of Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park area had been diagnosed with diabetes, a full three times higher than the 7% diabetes rate among all adults in Chicago and the United States. Furthermore, the diabetes mortality rate for Puerto Ricans in Humboldt Park was three times higher than the rate for the U.S.  For African Americans in Humboldt Park, the diabetes diagnosis rate was 14%, twice as high as the city at large. These statistics didn’t begin to account for undiagnosed cases, which may add up to thousands more throughout this community, which suffers the devastating and often preventable effects of the disease.

These data, howeveScreenshot 2016-03-29 09.01.52r, are no mere academic exercise. For the base of community groups and activists in Humboldt Park, it served as a call to action. Public health agencies would come to partner with social service providers to generate groundbreaking solutions, including free physical activity classes, nutrition workshops, and marketing campaigns. The centerpiece of these strategies was the dream of a bricks-and-mortar diabetes center situated on Division Street, the heart of Humboldt Park’s Paseo Boricua corridor.

Initially intended as a space where bilingual diabetes resource material could be made available on a walk-in basis, the Diabetes Empowerment Center (DEC) has grown into far more. Situated at one of Humboldt Park’s cornerstones – where Division Street meets California Avenue – the DEC occupies the ground floor of a Bickerdike affordable-housing development of more than 30 units. It bookends a block that houses several popular Puerto Rican restaurants and the Pedro Albizu Campos Alternative High School, which serves scores of students and their families each year. It sits on two highly frequented bus lines and those waiting for transportation often walk through the doors to escape the weather and access public health information. It is both an idea incubator and a job creator, providing needed economic resources to community health workers, fitness instructors, and office staff who would otherwise be struggling with job insecurity.

The Center is situated diagonally across from one of the key entry points to Humboldt Park itself, an expansive green space that draws Chicago residents by the thousands, all of which – at just a few paces – are within reach of the many services the DEC provides. The DEC hosts meetings of service providers, physical activity and nutrition classes, and high-profile events and press conferences – all at no cost to participants, whether they be elected officials, directors of City departments, academics, local residents with diabetes risk factors, or undocumented immigrants looking for referrals to medical homes and other resources.

The DEC has never allowed its four walls to become a boundary point, and in addition to serving as a drop-in center, it answers a charge to meet the community where it lives. Not only did the DEC send community health workers door-to-door for the Block by Block intervention, it also sets up outdoor tables throughout the community on a daily basis as weather allows, providing information to public-transit users and passersby as to the many services offered there. An abbreviated inventory of those programs and services appears below:

  • Muévete: This all-age, beginner level aerobics club for women and mothers supports the physical activity initiatives and provides social encouragement. Muévete translates to “Get Moving!” in English. The class meets three times a week for an hour in the gym of the Humboldt Park Field House. The workout includes warm up exercises, a dance aerobic workout, abdominal exercises and ends with stretching and deep breathing. Through its partner CLOCC, Muévete also conducts free technical assistance for agencies and organizations that would like to establish physical activity for community residents.
    • Muévete Physical Activity Program: Free, open to the public, bilingual instructors
      • Zumba
      • Dance aerobics
      • Tai Chi
      • Pilates
      • Yoga
      • Walking and Biking
      • Treadmill
  • Nutrition Education and Cooking Classes: Free, open to the public, bilingual instructors. Generally held once per week. Community partners include Norwegian American Hospital, Presence Healthcare, and Dominican University. The Saturday “Viva La Familia” family cooking class has proven especially popular. The class provides nutrition education across the generations, for a more holistic approach and impact.
  • Cardiovascular Health and Screenings: With funding from the GE Foundation, and in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health and Northwestern University, the DEC offers the Keep Your Heart Healthy The program provides free cardiovascular screenings every Saturday. Approximately 50 people are tested per week, and over 700 nonduplicated residents were screened in 2013, exceeding the target number by nearly three times. Referrals are made to services including physical health, mental health, substance abuse, physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation, and general social services. Medical students from Northwestern University receive pivotal training in both technique and patient relations as they perform the screening component of this program.
  • Medical Training Opportunities: The DEC has offered a real-world training site for medical students and residents nearly since its inception. This experience enhances what students and residents learn in a clinical setting by focusing squarely on community health. Residents from Presence Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center teach many of the weekly health-education classes at the DEC. Further, Northwestern University medical students perform heart screenings for the cardiovascular program while second-year medical students from Loyola Medical School provide family-focused health education classes every Saturday in conjunction with this program.
  • Partnerships: The DEC embodies the value of partnership and has leveraged many in-kind resources to keep its programs robust, as well as offering its services to partner agencies throughout the community. A partial list of the DEC’s community partners appears below:
    • Chicago Department of Public Health
    • Chicago Park District
    • Dominican University
    • Erie Family Health
    • Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness
    • José de Diego Elementary School
    • Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine
    • Monarch Garden
    • Moos Elementary School
    • Northwestern Medicine
    • Norwegian American Hospital
    • Pedro Albizu Campos Alternative High School
    • Presence Health
    • Puerto Rican Cultural Center
    • Rush University Medical Center
    • Sinai Urban Health Institute
    • West Town Bikes
    • UIC Mile Square Health Center
    • Community Health

2753 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622

Latest News from Empowerment Center

Move for Life! 2016 was driven indoors by the weather this year

Hundreds crowd indoors to the Muevete beat

On Saturday, April 2, 2016 a cold, windy and snowy day forced the Move for Life! event indoors for the first time to the Diabetes Empowerment Center.  Despite the inclement weather the community came out to enjoy a day of physical activity. Girls in the Game hosted physical activity; the Block Club Federation, Gads Hills and the Muévete; Zumba and Dance-aerobic team kept the event in full motion. Raffles were held at 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm. The raffle prizes consisted of bikes courtesy of West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urban, Sports equipment courtesy of The Block Club Federation, goody bags courtesy of Erie Health Center and duffle bags filled with food measures, mat and t-shirt courtesy of the Diabetes Empowerment Center/Keep Your Heart Healthy/Muévete. Health screenings face painting, games and healthy snacks were part of the day’s event.
We want to extend our appreciation to the following organizations, programs, individuals and volunteers who supported the event: PRCC’s Affordable Care Act, Barretos Union League Boys & Girls Club, Block Club Federation, Build On, Casa Central, Centro Infantil Consuelo Lee Corretjer Day Care, Chicago Park District, Community Health, Cook County Health & Hospital System, DEC: & Viva La Familia, DJ Wanda, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican HS, Erie Family Health Center, Gads Hill Center, Girls in the Game, Kids in the Kitchen of Junior League of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago- Strich School of Medicine, Madulla Chiro One Wellness Center, McCormick Tribune YMCA, Midwestern University Chicago Collage of Pharmacy, My World My Heart- Northwestern, Puerto Rican Pageant Committee, The Greater HP Community of Wellness, UrbanAgricultural Program -La Canasta, Vida/SIDA: Mujeres for Paseo, El Rescate, West Humboldt Park Development Council, West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urbano, Y.E.S./Youth Empowering Strategies, 014th District-CAPS, Regina Ruzzo, Aakanksha Kmanna, Omer Ismael, Mathew Nguyen, Sandra Candelaria, Arely Macias and Universal Prayer and especially our sponsors; Presence Saints Mary & Elizabeth Medical Center, Norwegian American Hospital, and Keep Your Heart Healthy.
Stay tuned for our next outdoor activity: The 10,000 Step Community Walk, which will take place on Saturday August 20, 2016.
The seasonal walking groups start Monday April 18, 2016 at 12:00pm and 2:00pm
773-342-0855, 2753 W. Division St.

Annual Diabetes Awareness Month event

By Jenny Jara, Diabetes Empowerment Center Outreach Worker

As the colder months approach, so does this year’s flu season, making it crucial for community members to take action in preventing influenza and its complications. For the month of October, the Greater Humboldt Park Community Diabetes Empowerment Center (DEC), in partnership with Walgreens, administered a total of 84 flu shots to community members. In addition to providing this free service, DEC provided basic heart screenings, nutrition education, cooking demonstration, physical activity and referrals.

Please join us for our annual Diabetes Awareness Month event on Saturday, November 14, 2015 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. We will have Free; A1C testing, the flu shot once again, heart screenings, food demonstration, physical activity, food and free raffle. DEC, 2753 W. Division St. Chicago Il 60622. 773-342-0855,

Muévete is celebrating its 10th!

By Leony Calderón, Diabetes Empowerment Center

Muévete is celebrating its 10th anniversary (Aug. 2005- Aug. 2015). What started as a walking group twice a week around Humboldt Park has evolved into a community based physical activity program. Muévete provides classes of Dance-aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga, seasonal walking and biking and the once a year Move for Life! season kick-off event.  Classes are held Monday through Saturday, and at three different locations, free of charge and open to adults 18 and over. All classes are accessible to all fitness levels to encouraging movement for all and support an active lifestyle.


On Saturday, August 22nd 2015, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary with a 10,000 steps around Humboldt Park.  Free of charge and for the entire family. There will be prizes for every 5,000 steps an individual takes. Music, heart screenings, snacks and refreshment will be provided. Please call or visit to register at the Diabetes Empowerment Center, 2753 W. Division St. 773-342-0855.

Diabetes Empowerment Center Thanks Jade Dell

By Puerto Rican Cultural Center

On Friday, April 17th, the Diabetes Empowerment Center and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center held a luncheon to honor Jade Dell for her lifelong community and human rights activism. Jade worked with Dr. Steve Whitman for decades, particularly at the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). Jaime Delgado and José E. López acknowledged her many behind the scenes contribution to Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.

The luncheon was a way for the community to acknowledge her greatness.

Thank you to all!

Thank you to all the organizations, sponsors, partners, individuals, inters, volunteers, performers and the Greater Humboldt Park Community for saying Presente! at this year’s Move for Life! 2015. Sunny and windy as it was, I hope everyone had the opportunity to Move! 

For additional images and listing of service providers please visit, 

For additional questions or concerns, 

call or email, 7773-342-0855,

Health Education at the Diabetes Empowerment Center Every Wednesday!

By Leony Calderón

Health Education Every Wednesday, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm.

Manage, Control and Prevent Diabetes.  Ask Doctors, Residents, Nutritionist, Pharmacist and Dietitian Your Pressing Health Questions.

Weekly Topics

  • *       Diabetes 101
  • *       Medication Education
  • *       Nutrition Class
  • *       Intro to Diabetes & How the Body Works
  • *       Protecting Your Eyes
  • *       Protecting Your Feet
  • *       Oral Health
  • *       Using The Glucose Meter & Meds
  • *       Heart Health Education
  • *       Physical Activity and Diabetes

Diabetes Empowerment Center, 2753 W. Division St. 773-342-0855

Free and Bilingual.

Educación de Salud todos los Miércoles de 12:00pm a 1:00pm

Manege, Controle y Prevenga la Diabetes. Haga Preguntas a los Médicos, Residentes, Nutricionistas, Farmacéuticos y Dietista Acerca de Su de Salud.

Temas Semanales

  • *       Diabetes 101
  • *       Educación Medicamentos
  • *       Clase de Nutrición
  • *       Introducción a la Diabetes y Cómo funciona el cuerpo
  • *       Proteja sus ojos
  • *       La protección de sus pies
  • *       Salud Oral
  • *       Uso del medidor de glucosa y Medicamentos
  • *       Educación para la Salud del Corazón
  • *       Actividad física y la diabetes

Gratuito y Bilingüe.

Centro de Empoderamiento Contra la Diabetes, 2753 W. Division St. 773-342-0855

Diabetes Empowerment Center and Muevete Present! at People’s Parade

The Greater Humboldt Park Community Diabetes Empowerment Center’s Muévete Physical Activity Program, ¡Dijo Presente!  The Sun shined on us Saturday, June 14, 2014, as we celebrated along with community the 36th annual and 2nd United Puerto Rican People’s Parade. Participants, staff, instructors and volunteers showed their beautiful smile while waving the Puerto Rican Flag Parading down Division street in Humboldt Park, and the crowd responded with chants and cheers while weaving proudly the Puerto Rican flags. It was truly a day of pride and celebration on Division St.

Join us for Health Education classes: Nutrition Education, Food Demonstrations, Diabetes Prevention and Medication Education.  Muévete: Dance-aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga, seasonal walking and biking groups. Heart Health Screenings and more… The Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center is located at 2753 W. Division St. is opened on Monday and Friday 8:30am-5:00pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 8:30am-7:00pm. 773-342-0855.

Mother’s Day Heart Health Event at The Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center

By Janeida Rodriguez

May 10, 2014 Mother’s Day was celebrated at the Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center with an event hosted by the Keep Your Heart Healthy program. As a way to promote heart health, physical activity and healthy eating, there were presenters to engage all of the mothers and families in attendance.

Presentations were made by Roberto Perez of Urban Pilon who made delicious and healthy stuffed bell peppers and provided samples for guests to taste. Diana Reyes, Mexican folkloric dancer of Horizontes Mexicanos dance company graced the audience with a beautiful traditional dance. There was also a lively Zumba dance aerobics session to get participants moving and excited to exercise while having fun and Muevete t-shirts and Target gift cards were provided as the free raffle prizes!

The Mother’s Day event hosted one-on-one consultations by registered dietician, Jennifer Bauer, RD, LDN, CDE from Presence Health Care and The Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s (PRCC) Affordable Care Act (ACA) was on-site enrolling participants for Get Covered Illinois health coverage. The PRCC ACA program can assist community members with enrolling for health coverage weekly at 112 N. California. Call 773-227-7794 for details.

The Keep Your Heart Healthy program provided approximately 50 free heart health screenings that assessed participant’s risk for heart disease and/or a heart attack for participants 18 years and older. Free heart health screenings are offered Saturdays between 10:00AM and 2:00PM for along with cooking demonstrations, Zumba and more while you wait. To get your free basic heart screening Monday-Friday, call 773-342-0855 between 8:30AM and 5:00PM to schedule an appointment with Magdalena (Maggie), Keep Your Heart Healthy program coordinator at The Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center located at 2753 W. Division St.

The 4th Annual Season Kick-off Event “Move for Life” Coming to Humboldt Park

Move for Life! Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 12 Noon-4:00PM in Humboldt Park, (Luis Munoz Marin Drive) corner of Division and California.

Now in its 4th year, the purpose of Move for Life! is to kick-off the Spring/Summer season by promoting and supporting an active lifestyle and encouraging the community to participate in physical activities. Whether it’s walking, jogging, cycling, dance-aerobics, Zumba, basketball, or soccer the idea is to get people moving. To motivate our community, Move for Life! brings together communitybased organizations, agencies, and individuals to interactively showcase their various free or low cost physical activity programs available to everyone in the community throughout the year.

For more information on Move for Life! or to participate in the event contact the Diabetes Empowerment Center at 773-342-0855 or email us at