The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), Living Well Alabama, was designed by Stanford University to help people with chronic diseases (and their caregivers) gain confidence in their ability to control symptoms and to be in charge of how their health conditions affect their lives.

As a licensed provider of Living Well training, The Wellness Coalition certified Bethany Seventh Day Adventist church leaders to teach the 6-week program and equipped them with classroom materials. In turn, Bethany taught three different rounds of the program in 2017. This enhanced dimension of the church’s health ministry will continue for years to come with an annual re-certification for the class leaders.


Rebecca Myrick and Christine Berry are friends and members of Bethany Seventh Day Adventist Church. Their friendship has deepened through their joint service to the church’s gospel choir and grew even more when they took part in the church’s first Living Well program.

“We already had a connection,” said Rebecca. “[Through Living Well,] we got to practice keeping each other accountable to our goals and we’ve kept it up.”

Rebecca has been concerned about her health for as long as she can remember and has made consistent, mindful choices to be a vegetarian and exercise regularly. Diabetes and asthma run in Rebecca’s family. Even though she doesn’t have these chronic conditions, she cares for those siblings and cousins who do. As a family caregiver, she has been frustrated with her tendency to slip into “save the world” mode, because overdoing it brings imbalance to her own health. She took the Living Well course with this in mind and realized that her friend Christine was willing to help her “keep things in check” and stay accountable to her own self-care routine.


Christine took the Living Well class with the intention of getting back on track with the management of her blood sugar levels. She has had Type 2 diabetes for 10 years and, prior to taking the Living Well classes, had fallen out of the habit of exercising due to bulging discs in her back. She had also become less careful about her food portions and the variety in her nutrition.

In taking the first Living Well class, Christine was reminded of the pain management technique of distraction and was determined that she could get past her pain in this way. She made her first action plan to walk one lap around Gateway Park three times each week and received encouragement from her Living Well teachers when she achieved this goal. Christine liked how the teachers made time for each class participant to report on their weekly goals and she went on to make a plan to keep a weekly food diary.


Now that the classes are over, Christine knows that Rebecca will check in with her about the weekly goals that she still maintains. When she does fall off course, Christine finds that it’s easier to regain her resolve because her exercise and improved eating habits have reduced her back pain and improved her quality of life. She also likes the fact that her doctor is pleased with her blood sugar level management and “is not fussing at her anymore.”

Friends Rebecca and Christine attended Living Well for very different reasons, but both have come through it with an appreciation for the impact that personal responsibility and friendship can have on health. They believe wholeheartedly that the investment of time that Bethany SDA Church has made to offer Living Well to the congregation and community is aligned with the church mission to “Reach up, reach out and reach in.”

Rebecca affirmed, “To help people be the best they can be, despite health challenges or tendencies of self-neglect is a great way to help the community and our congregation.”

To learn more about Living Well Alabama, call 334-293-6502.