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DHWI History 

An Exciting New Approach to Diabetes Health Care

Diabetes (high sugar in the blood) is common in South Dallas. Within the city of Dallas, people who live in the city’s Southern Sector (south of Interstate 30 and east of Interstate 35) often have diabetes, have more problems from their diabetes and are more often hospitalized for diabetes than people who live in any other area of Dallas County.

People who live in the Frazier neighborhood of South Dallas, have the highest rate of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke in the city.

To try to improve the situation, Baylor Health Care System and the City of Dallas formed a partnership to help provide better prevention and care of diabetes.

The partnership was built around the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, which opened in the summer of 2010, in the former Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center at 4500 Spring Avenue in Dallas.

Named for the beloved and well-known community activist Juanita J. Craft, the center has served the neighborhood for many years as a trusted place for individuals and families.

Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft

Juanita Jewel Shanks Craft (1902-1985) was an African American pioneer. Born in Round Rock, Texas in 1902, Juanita Craft was the granddaughter of slaves who spent her lifetime working for equal rights for African Americans and integration for all races.

She was greatly affected by her mother's death in 1918 after being refused hospital treatment when there were no state hospitals for black Texans.

Craft moved to Dallas in 1925 where she served the community in public service. In 1935 she joined the Dallas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) where she took on leadership roles of chairperson, organizer, and advisor. In the 1940s, she organized the Dallas NAACP Youth Council, which became a nationwide model.

Her many achievements helped to shape Dallas. She was the first African American woman to vote in Dallas County (1944) and to receive the Linz Award (1968).

Craft was a Democratic Party precinct chair for 20 years and served two terms as a Dallas City Council member. During this time she worked to expand the rights of Native Americans and Hispanics. Following the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Craft worked to integrate the University of Texas Law School and the Dallas Independent School District. In 1955, she organized a protest of the State Fair of Texas against its policy of admitting blacks only on "Negro Achievement Day."

Juanita Craft’s work brought recognition from many leaders including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson; Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In acknowledgement of her work, the Juanita Jewel Craft Recreation Center, a Dallas city park, and a U.S. Post Office are named in her honor. Her home in Dallas is designated a historical landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.