Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 19, 2013

Health initiative emphasizes literacy

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — The coordinators of a 10-week health literacy project that kicks off today hope to help participants better understand information given them by their doctors' office so that they can better care for themselves.

While one normally does not link health and literacy, Peggy Lustig, Circle of 10 regional literacy director, said health care very much entails literacy.

“It's a matter of reading (labels or other information that is health-related) and understanding it,” she explained.

“Literacy affects all aspects of a person's life, because if you don't understand what you are reading, you're not going to be able to follow instruction (to better care for yourself).”

The free sessions, which last from Feb. 19 through April 23, will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. at the Rusk Civic Center, 555 Euclid St.

They are funded through Dollar General Literacy Foundation and presented by the Gateway to American Opportunities, a regional literacy initiative of A Circle of Ten, Inc.

Sandra Stewart, a certified registered nurse from Rusk, will lead the sessions, which will vary in topic.

The idea to present a health literacy program has been on the agency's mind for a while, Lustig said.

“We're always trying to think of ways to help adults with literacy (issues), not just by offering the traditional GED or English as a Second Language classes,” she said. “When we do these classes, some of the students bring in material and ask what it means. Or a parent comes in and begins talking about taking their child to the doctor, and they're nervous about it.”

By surveying participants, Steward can tailor a program that meets their needs, Lustig added. “We want to plan it around the health needs of the participants, and a health literacy survey is a better way to gage those needs.”

For more information about the program, contact the Gateway to American Opportunities, 903-589-6900, or email literacyatwork2004@yahoo.com.