Health Hero Karin Collinsworth uses her experience to help others live healthy

1811_8656m_BalancedU-lapelPin (003)Karin Collinsworth is a familiar face to many employees. For the past 10 years, she has taught yoga twice a week in the Chinook Building’s Activity Center. Teaching the stretching art to County employees is her way of giving back. “I learned early on how important exercise is to reduce stress and be healthy, so I enjoy showing my co-workers how they can achieve both through yoga,” says Karin.

Karin is a systems analyst for King County Information Technology (KCIT). When she isn’t solving a systems crisis or teaching yoga, she is chatting with co-workers who stop her on her daily walks with Cocoa. Named for her beautiful chocolate mane, Cocoa is more than just your average pet; she is a diabetes alert dog. She alerts Karin when her blood glucose is going too high or too low, which can have serious complications. Cocoa has been with Karin for four years, but she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 17. “I’ve always been the kind of person who would rather try to do something about a situation and not just give up.”

A couple years after diagnosis, Karin signed up to participate in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and was randomized in the experimental (tight control) group. She worked with top doctors at the University of Washington on several studies. Although they haven’t been able to find a cure for diabetes, Karin says she is grateful that participating in the trials have kept her from having a lot of common health problems associated with the condition. “I consider myself lucky because I’ve had 30 years of good care during the studies. A lot of people with my disease experience sight loss and kidney failure,” Karin stated.

Karin prides herself on teaching others mind and body awareness and sharing her knowledge with acquaintances, friends, family, and co-workers so that they can live a little more healthily. “In addition to exercise, I have taught family and friends how to eat better and to be mindful of how we treat our bodies. I hope to continue to do that – it’s a passion of mine.”

Do you have a long-term health issue? Check out resources available through King County Living Well programs.

Through King County, Living Well programs can help with managing long-term health issues. Contact BalancedYou@kingcounty.gov or call 206-263-9626 for more information.

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