Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Canton IL :: Québec CA :: Florida

Seeing Literacy with New Eyes
Tri States Public Radio: 1.25.2017 by Barbara Harroun

On January 13th, in the basement of Spoon River College's Washington Street Campus, Adult Education Program Coordinator Cynthia Johnston patiently encouraged me as I struggled to read a paragraph aloud.

“Mark. And.” I paused, already frustrated two words in.

“Good,” Cynthia said.

“I don’t know the next word,” I said and sighed before sounding it out, “Cyn-th-i-a. Live. On. A. Lake. In. The. City.” The three sentences that followed required an intense, physical focus as I deciphered the words that were in front of me. I stopped and started, grappling with a skill that I had always, always taken for granted—reading. Reading has always been associated with pleasure, safety, sanctuary, and learning. But two weeks ago, for five minutes, I felt only frustration, and a burning embarrassment. Two friends I like and respect watched and listened as I struggled. I had just met Cynthia Johnston, but I didn’t want her to think I was stupid. My brain simply wouldn’t do what I needed it to do, not even by sheer force of will. When my paragraph was completed, I felt entirely spent and shaken.

According to a poster provided by Cynthia Johnston, “1 out of 5 adult Americans cannot read.” Take a moment with that. Consider how you use reading and writing every day. Consider the implications of not being able to read. According to Proliteracy, “More than 38 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.”  LISTEN 📻

West Island group helps boost literacy skills with free tutoring for adults
Montreal Gazette: 1.27.2017 by John Meagher

In a province where some estimates suggest nearly half the population is functionally illiterate, the staff at Literacy Unlimited is chipping away at those startling numbers one ‘learner’ at a time.

The small non-profit group offers free individual adult literacy tutoring out of its rented offices at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire.

The group, formed in 1981, serves the vast Lester B. Pearson School Board territory — from Verdun to the Ontario border — which encompasses a large portion of Quebec’s anglophone population.

As part of the Family Literacy Day awareness campaign on Friday, Lucy Baum, Executive Director of Literacy Unlimited, said an alarming number of anglophones in the West Island and Greater Montreal area are functionally illiterate.

“The anglophone population is just under a million, so if you consider that 30 or 40 per cent of those people will have poor literacy … as many as 300,000 are affected,” she said.

Many people with low literacy learn to cope and develop “adaptive strategies” to get through simple daily challenges like reading a report at work or a recipe at home, said Baum.

“Grocery store signs, medical prescriptions, a transit map — almost half the population struggles with those things to some degree.

“Often times, people will come through our doors when they reach a point where something doesn’t work anymore, or when the coping strategies fall apart a little bit,” Baum said.  READ MORE @

Statewide Health Literacy Initiative Receives Sponsorship from Florida Blue Foundation 1.27.2017

The Florida Literacy Coalition announced that it has been awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant by the Florida Blue Foundation to continue the Florida Health Literacy Initiative. This program provides local literacy, family literacy and adult English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs with mini-grants to support the integration of health and nutrition information into adult literacy instruction. Through the acquisition of health literacy skills and knowledge, students are given the tools to help them make informed health decisions and to navigate the medical system.

More than 15,000 students from educational organizations throughout Florida have benefited from this initiative. The literacy coalition’s data reflects the significant impact of this evidence-based program, both in terms of student health literacy assessment gains as well as behavioral changes and newly acquired skills. Participants are eating healthier, exercising more, learning how to communicate with doctors, access health insurance and better navigate the health care system.

There is growing recognition among health care providers and adult educators around the country that limited English language and literacy skills can have a significant impact on one’s health. According to the National Adult Assessment of Literacy, 14 percent of Americans cannot comprehend basic health information. The study indicates that health illiteracy is especially prevalent among: 1) adults who did not complete high school, with 49 percent having below basic health literacy, and 2) foreign-born adults who have English as their second language.

People who lack literacy and health literacy skills are much more likely to take medications incorrectly, be hospitalized and spend more time in the hospital than people with higher health literacy, and are four times more likely to have poor health. The potential for financial savings and increased health outcomes as a result of healthy literacy skill improvements are significant. Adult education, literacy and family literacy programs play an important role in helping people to acquire these skills.  READ MORE @

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