The Whanganui Regional Health Network's next course to help educate people with diabetes starts next month.
The seven-week "Living Well with Diabetes" programme was launched six years ago and aims to provide five courses per year. Courses are facilitated by Andre Mason and Mary Hirini and, to date, have taken place in Whanganui, Marton, Taihape, Waverley and Kaitoke Prison.
As someone with type 1 diabetes, Hirini is very aware of the need for education.
"It took me 30 years to learn about this," she said.
"I didn't think there would be so many people out there now not knowing much about this disorder and how to manage it, but unfortunately there is."
The number of participants varies, but it is generally kept to a group of less than 20. Feedback from the courses demonstrates how beneficial they have been.
"I have had diabetes for 23 years and when I was diagnosed there was no education on how best to deal with it," one participant said.
"Back in the mid-90s it was all about taking your medication and everything will be okay. It was never explained that healthy eating, exercising, emotions or wellbeing play a big role in diabetes. This course has made me more confident and have a better understanding of the things that can affect people with diabetes.
"I want to thank Andre and Mary, not only for teaching us, but in taking the time to just listen to us. Showing true compassion in what you teach, not because it is your job, but because of the path you both walk."
Another participant said having been a type 1 diabetic for more than 10 years, they were "subject to endless misinformation and confusion".
"I have learnt so much regarding diabetes and how to manage it, not only from the group leaders, but also from the other diabetics in the group. For the first time I feel I can understand and cope; something I was convinced I would not be able to achieve."
The next Whanganui seven-week course starts on Friday, March 5, with the first week being an introduction. Sessions are held once a week, for two to two-and-a-half hours, in the Gonville Centre community room. People who would like to attend or have any questions can contact Mary Hirini on 029 222 5388.