The Miami Public Library Literacy Program is one of twelve programs statewide awarded a $4,000 health literacy grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL). The goal for awarded projects is to provide resources and training opportunities that enhance community awareness about health and wellness.
The local grant will address several health and wellness issues. The first focus is a walking contest—the Route 66 Virtual Walking Tour. Participants will receive a pedometer and recording sheet to keep track of their steps with the goal of taking enough steps to walk the Oklahoma section of Route 66. Area businesses will be invited to participate as teams to walk the whole Mother Road. This project will start in January, a time when many aspire to improve their health. The second focus is some healthy cooking classes that will target up to 30 low-income families within the community. There will be cooking classes for children as well as classes for parents that stress inexpensive, nutritious, easy to prepare meals.
In addition there will be three workshops offered at the library and at NTHS that will focus on strength training, preparing vegetables and fruit in ways that taste good, and planning a healthy menu using coupons and serving it at an enjoyable family dinner.
The library will also offer a 12-week program “Eat Better, Move More,” on Mondays from 1:00-2:00 p.m. beginning February 2. All participants in this program will receive pedometers. This program, which is geared toward older adults, will be offered through videoconferencing in our upstairs meeting room.
“We are excited to collaborate with other organizations to carry out this effort,” said library director, Marcia Johnson. Partners include: INTEGRIS Baptist Regional Health Center, Northeastern Tribal Health Systems, Ottawa County Health Department, and DHS school-based social workers working in Miami Public Schools. “Together, we hope to make a difference in the lives of our families by encouraging healthier choices and improving access to health information.”
America’s Health Rankings, an annual report by the United Health Foundation, lists Oklahoma near the bottom according to Leslie Gelders, director of ODL’s Literacy Resource Office. “We rank 44th out of the 50 states,” Gelders said. “Among the health concerns reported, our state ranks poorly in such areas as immunization of children, obesity, diabetes, drug deaths, high cholesterol, annual dental visits, and consumption of fruits.”
Along with the many reported health concerns, Gelders said there are also concerns when it comes to the ability of many Oklahoma adults to access, read, and understand credible health and wellness information.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 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.”
Gelders said studies reveal that an individual’s ability to read and understand health information is actually a stronger predictor of a person’s health than his age, socioeconomic status, education or ethnicity.
“In order to improve the state’s health outcomes, Oklahomans need to be able to access and understand reliable health information,” said Summer Beck, Community Education Coordinator for INTEGRIS. “We also need to be able to speak effectively with our medical professionals, follow dosage instructions, and use available resources to make informed health decisions for ourselves and our families.”
Gelders said health literacy partnerships are a relatively new concept for Oklahoma library and literacy programs.
“The better understanding individuals have about their health choices, the better the outcomes. That’s why this project is so important, and that’s why the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is providing the funding for these grants.”
For information on Oklahoma’s adult literacy efforts, visit www.odl.state.ok.us/literacy.
To learn more about the local effort, contact Marcia Johnson at 918-541-2292.