Take a moment and look around you. Half of all Americans live with at least one chronic disease, and 28 percent of us have two or more.

Arthritis alone affects 50 million Americans and is now the most common cause of disability. Across the nation, health care costs associated with chronic diseases make up 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent on health care each year. This means 145 million of us can learn how to manage our symptoms and adopt healthy behaviors to help reduce the personal and societal burden of our diseases. 

Living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, depression and even migraines does not automatically mean a lifetime of misery and suffering. We can learn to self-manage our conditions, while learning to communicate more effectively with our doctors, peers and loved ones by participating in evidence-based self-management workshops, such as Living Well with Chronic Conditions or Healthy Living with Diabetes. These, among others, were developed by Stanford University and have high success rates for participants.

They are designed to be taught in a small group of 10 to 12 people and are led in a structured manner by trained leaders who have chronic conditions themselves. These low-cost workshops are offered once a week for six weeks and are designed to complement, not replace, clinical treatment and disease-specific education programs. 

There are approximately 400,000 adults in Wisconsin and 4,500 children and adolescents with diabetes. This does not include the 1.45 million adults statewide with pre-diabetes. Learning ways to eat more healthfully, fun ways to get active, safe foot care, how to prevent and delay complications, how to prevent low blood sugar, and tips for talking with your healthcare team and family by attending a Healthy Living…