Richmond Dance Studio Partners with HQI to Present Diabetes Workshops

As the owner of World Fitness Dance Academy (WFDA), Cynthia Thomas-Rustin is committed to more than just sharing her love of dance and fitness. She wants to transform the community by helping seniors be healthier and more active. Her commitment also makes her an ideal partner for Health Quality Innovator’s (HQI’s) Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) initiative.

As part of its EDC project, HQI collaborates with organizations across Maryland and Virginia to host diabetes self-management program (DSMP) workshops. Thomas-Rustin first learned about DSMP program while attending a senior wellness event. She polled her customers to ensure there was adequate support.

“People were interested in the workshop and in taking steps to have a better quality of life through healthy eating, exercise and better diabetes management. I believed it would empower my community and my members and their families,” she said.

In coordination with Erica Morrison, an HQI improvement consultant and DSMP master trainer, Thomas-Rustin recently organized her first workshop. As two facilitators are required for workshops, Kathy Brown, with Senior Connections, Virginia’s Capital Area Agency on Aging, agreed to co-lead alongside Morrison.

Thomas-Rustin attended each session of the six-week workshop and appreciated the efforts of both the facilitators and the men and women who participated.

“The workshop facilitators were very knowledgeable and established a wonderful rapport with everyone who attended. The sessions were very interactive. Each week, participants shared the small changes they were making to prepare healthier foods, exercise, read food labels and lower their blood sugar levels,” Thomas-Rustin said.

Dorothy Fuller, and her husband John, were among the individuals who participated in the workshop. “I direct the culinary ministry at my church. The knowledge I’m gaining about nutrition will also help me provide healthier meals for the congregation,” she said.

Charles Squire was diagnosed with diabetes 17 years ago. Despite living with the condition for nearly two decades, he was surprised that he had much to learn in the program. “Things change so I gained new information about living with diabetes. I am more motivated to eat better and to get exercise every day. I have also enjoyed the time with the other workshop participants,” he said.

Margretta Patterson signed up for the program after learning that she was pre-diabetic. “I did not want my condition to progress any further. One of the most important things that I am learning is how to read food labels so that I can eat healthy,” she said.

Beyond hosting the workshops, Thomas-Rustin supports wellness events and hosts complimentary fitness classes for seniors two days a week. She looks forward to hosting additional classes in the future and hopes to receive training to serve as a DSMP lay leader.

To learn more about World Fitness Dance Academy, visit

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