Health Literacy Month began in October with a grant award of $7,000 to the Great Plains Literacy Council or GPLC that will allow the literacy program to promote health and wellness information, programs, and resources to the community.
America’s Health Rankings, an annual report by the United Health Foundation, ranks Oklahoma near the bottom of the list.
“We rank 45th out of the 50 states,” said Leslie Gelders, director of Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ Literacy Resource Office. “Among health conditions considered, Oklahoma received alarming scores in such areas as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular deaths, high cholesterol, annual dental visits, availability of primary care physicians, and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.”
In Jackson County and Harmon County, one goal of the grant is to create more literate and informed adult learners by offering free tutoring with health and wellness information while learning the English language and vocabulary.
In addition to tutoring, other planned projects include a health fair, a quarterly bilingual newsletter with Health Matters articles, computer workshop lab, blood pressure and weight control educational programs and a health film festival.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly nine out of ten 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.”
GPLC Coordinator Ida Fay Winters echoed Gelders’ sentiments.
“We are excited to collaborate with other organizations in our community to carry out this grant,” Winters said. “Together, we hope to make a difference in the lives of our residents by encouraging healthier choices and improving access to reliable health information.”
As part of the initiative, there is a Diabetes Empowerment Education Program workshop series scheduled 1-2:30 p.m. Nov. 1 through Dec. 6 at the Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson St. in Altus. Rhonda David from the Southwest Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative of Lawton is slated to present the free sessions.
“The better understanding individuals have about their health choices, the better the outcomes,” Gelders said. “That’s why this project is so important, and that’s why the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are providing the funding for these grants.”
For more information contact Winters at 580-477-2890 or Literacy1@spls.lib.ok.us or visit libraries.ok.gov/literacy.