July 2019: Literacyworks in the News

Literacyworks: Who We Are

Literacyworks is an educational nonprofit organization created to increase accessibility and participation of underprivileged and underrepresented adults, families and children to increase literacy, technology, and basic skills. Our goal is to collaboratively and comprehensively address the literacy needs of families across a spectrum of basic needs essential to the quality of life: family literacy, health literacy, financial literacy, and workplace literacy. To address one literacy need outside the context of the others leaves families only partially served.

Health Literacy

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We received our grant from the Petaluma Health Care District this month. This funding will provide a series of Health Literacy workshops exclusively to our Center students.

Literacyworks has a long history with health literacy initiatives. We conducted a pilot study in 2003 with California Literacy called California Health Literacy Initiative, "Low Literacy, High Risk: The Hidden Challenge Facing Healthcare in California". The survey found that:

•      65 percent of California adults with limited literacy skills avoided going to the doctor because of difficulties completing the paperwork.
•      75 percent of physicians who were surveyed knew of medical errors caused by patients’ limited literacy skills.
•      94 percent of physicians believe that low literate adults experience a lower quality of care.
•      46% of adults cannot read and follow medical instructions (Neilsen-Bohlman, 2004)
•     26% of the patients could not read their appointment slips, and
•     42% did not understand the labels on their prescription bottles.

The poor and illiterate are certainly profoundly impacted by low health literacy and as a result, have a higher percentage of health conditions which limit their lives. This includes the ability to understand instructions on prescriptions, appointment slips, brochures, consent forms, and the ability to navigate complicated health care systems. Health literacy is not merely the ability to read, but the ability to apply a complex group of reading, listening, analytical and decision-making skills to health situations. Health literacy, therefore, is not necessarily related to years of education or general reading ability. Further studies have shown that people of all ages, races, incomes, and educations levels are challenged by low health literacy.

Our Center’s Health Literacy program objectives for the PHCD grant in 2019-2020 are:
• Produce workshop curriculum to focus on the specific health needs of students and community health resources to support those needs.
• Work with small groups developing activities & forums that develop health literate social communities providing health literacy information to their families and communities.
By June 2020, conduct 4 health literacy workshops
• Create 4 peer groups that can disseminate local health resource information to their peers, family and community.
Establish working relationship with community health services.

To learn more about our California Health Literacy Initiative, go to http://www.literacyworks.org/healthliteracy


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We are pleased to feature one of our outstanding students in this month’s newsletter. Diana has been with the Center for three and a half years. She started in ESL classes working hard to develop her English communication skills. She has since progressed into credit courses, now taking math and science classes to fulfill the prerequisites for the nursing program. Her enthusiasm and positive attitude are always evident in our workshops and Diana always brings her two young daughters with her. Literacyworks was invited to compete at a fundraising event called ‘Sonoma – One Hundred People Who Care.’ As Center staff discussed how to design our presentation, Diana’s name came up as a co-presenter because she reflects the values and determination of so many of the great students we are privileged to work with. She agreed to speak, so in front of over one hundred people, she told her story. This is a portion of her speech:

“In order to be successful in life you need the support of a community.  Hello, my name is Diana.  I am 28 years old and a mom to two beautiful girls, Esmeralda and Lucero. I am the first in my family to attend college, and it has not been easy, but who said it would be?  When I arrived in the US, I had a difficult experience of wanting to buy an ice cream on a hot day in June, but I could not do it because I did not speak English. That day I promised myself that one day I would speak the language and be productive in my community.  My goal is to become a pediatric nurse, but I could not do it without the help of amazing organizations like Literacyworks that have become part of my family and have been my support throughout my journey.  During this time, I have embraced you as part of my family, and I am thankful for this support and friendship. I would not be able to accomplish my goal, help my daughters and help others in the community without Literacyworks. Thank you so much.”

As you know, Literacyworks won the competition for the $10,000 which goes to support the Center. By the way, Diana just got an internship with the Petaluma Health Center strengthening her future application to nursing school.