The Rogers County Literacy Council (RCLC) is one of 11 programs statewide awarded a $4,000 health literacy grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL). The goal for awarded projects is to provide resources and training opportunities that enhance community awareness about health and wellness.
The local grant will address several health and wellness issues. RCLC will hold a series of ESL Community Communicate classes titled “Health Conversation” in Spring 2016. These classes will give English language learners tools to communicate more effectively with health care providers, gain access to resources, and understand health related issues in English.
“We are excited to collaborate with other organizations to carry out this effort,” says Stacy Lucas, language instructor with the Rogers County Literacy Council, “Together, we hope to make a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens by encouraging healthier choices and improving access to health information.”
America’s Health Rankings, a annual report by the United Health Foundation, lists Oklahoma near the bottom according to Leslie Gelders, director of ODL’s Literacy Resource Office. “We rank 46th out of the 50 states,” Gelders said. “Among the health concerns reported, our state ranks poorly in such areas as immunization of children, obesity, diabetes, drug deaths, high cholesterol, annual dental visits, and consumption of fruits.”
Along with the many reported health concerns, Gelders said there are also concerns when it comes to the ability of many Oklahoma adults to access, read, and understand credible health and wellness information.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost nine out of 10 Americans have problems reading and using consumer health information,” Gelders said. “If the majority of Americans have problems understanding health information, imagine the obstacles faced by people with low reading skills or a limited understanding of English.”
Gelders said studies reveal that an individual’s ability to read and understand health information is actually a stronger predictor of a person’s health than his age, socioeconomic status, education or ethnicity.
“Literacy plays an important part in our state’s health outcomes, Oklahomans need to be able to access and understand reliable health information,” the RCLC director, Edel Godwin said. “We also need to be able to speak effectively with our medical professionals and use available resources to make informed health decisions for ourselves and our families.”
Gelders said health literacy partnerships are a relatively new concept for Oklahoma library and literacy programs.
“The better understanding individuals have about their health choices, the better the outcomes. That’s why this project is so important, and that’s why the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is providing the funding for these grants.”
For information on Oklahoma’s adult literacy efforts, visit www.odl.state.ok.us/literacy.
RCLC is recruiting tutors now for our ongoing literacy tutoring in Rogers County. One-on-one reading, writing and math tutoring for adults. Tutor training will take place in February. Please contact us now to learn how you can help. Contact Edel Godwin at 918-277- 4331 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured: Gus Ramirez and Cat Rahmeier, RCLC board members, Stacy Lucas, teacher, and Edel Godwin, director