Did you know that in 2011, Oklahoma was the worst state in the nation when it came to dental visits? Or that Oklahoma was also at the bottom of the state line-up when it came to diets that included fruit and vegetables? By the way, in 2011, Oklahoma was the 46th healthiest state when it came to health. In 2012, Oklahoma moved up to 43rd healthiest state. While 43rd is still not good, it is an improvement. Another alarming concern about Oklahoma was included in the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy. It estimated 43% of Oklahoma’s adults function with the most basic or below-basic literacy skills of reading simple everyday literacy activities. And for these reasons, the Great Plains Literacy Council wanted to address both health and literacy issues in the new year through Project HELP, which stands for Health, English, & Literacy Partnership. This grant has been made possible through the federal Library Services and Technology Act funding received through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Literacy Services.
Project HELP combines health information and the English language to address issues of great need for uneducated adult learners. Learning about health and the English language go hand-in-hand with this literacy project. It has always been the literacy council’s mission to create more literate citizens, and this extension of their services will address these issues. This project will help adult learners understand the English language while using health topics and resources.
To start the project, the Great Plains Literacy Council welcomes Delilah Centeno as the new Health Literacy Assistant, a part-time grant position. This job will keep Mrs. Centeno busy maintaining communication with staff, tutors, and adult learners and offering free tutoring of resources and training to better understand health and wellness information while learning the English language. She will be recruiting tutors and learners and promoting the interactive Internet sessions with the Medline Plus resources in English and Spanish and with the News For You online weekly articles and exercises. Tutors and students will meet once a week for 1-2 hours at the Altus or Hollis Public Libraries or an agreed public site. The service is completely FREE. Contact the Hollis Library at 580- 688-2744 or the Altus Library at 580-477-2890 to find out the process to be a tutor or to register as a student. The Great Plains Literacy Council office is located at the Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson, in Altus.