Look for upcoming Health & Wellness Programs at a library near you!
Health Literacy Highlights
Stillwater Public Library’s StoryWalk
The Stillwater Public Library celebrated National Health Literacy Month with a groundbreaking for their StoryWalk® in the Park program. Funds for this project are provided by Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered through Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
“StoryWalk® in the Park is a way for children and adults to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director. “The concept is simple. Place bright and engaging pages of a must-read picture book along a path and people will stop to read as they walk. Not only does it encourage walkers to read, but it also encourages readers to walk.”
The StoryWalk® will be completed and open for reading in March 2018. The City of Stillwater Parks and Recreation and Operations staff will be installing the posts around the walking trail that snakes through the park. See more on the story [….]
Jim Scott, City of Stillwater Parks and Rec
Alane Zannotti, City Council
Laura Shellhammer, Early Childhood Coalition
Cathy Albright, Library Board
Senator Tom Dugger
Wanda Cunningham, Library Board
Elizabeth Murray, Children’s Librarian
Robin Cornwell, Library Board
Kendra Smith, Payne County Health Dept.
Lynda Reynolds, Library Director
Hula Hoops are Not Just for Kids Anymore.
Exercise coach Kelsey Philo demonstrated using hula hoops as a low impact, fun way to exercise. Participants visited the Champion Public Library in Ardmore to learn a new way to exercise. “Hooping helps adults maintain spinal mobility as well as center of balance, not to mention a workout of core muscles,” said project director Pam Bean with Southern Oklahoma Library System. “This is just one way our health literacy program is encouraging community members to exercise, eat right, and enjoy life.” Hula hoop expert, Kelssy Philo (right), demonstrated extreme hooping to children at the Moore Public Library. She explained that hooping exercises the body and reading exercises the mind. The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V
The American Medical Association Foundation has said poor health literacy is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than his age, socioeconomic status, education, or ethnicity.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, persons with limited literacy skills are more likely to have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma and are less likely to manage them effectively.
The Institute for Medicine’s Board of Neuroscience and Health has found that adults need basic health literacy skills to speak with medical professionals, access health information, follow dosage instructions, make informed health decisions, and to use medical tools for personal and family health care.
“Health information is so important and so many people don’t understand how to ask the right questions. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you don’t know something. As long as you treat us with respect and show the right attitude, we’re not going to be offended by how many questions you have to ask us in order to help us find the information we’re looking for.” —Carol, adult learner from Tulsa
In 2017, the 28th annual America’s Health Rankings, produced by United Health Foundation, listed Oklahoma as one of the 7 least healthy states. Contributing to the low score were high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and low rates of physical inactivity, child immunizations and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
More and more, there are opportunities for all types of organizations to collaborate to promote health and wellness in the community. Nationally and in Oklahoma, public libraries are resources for credible health information and sites for health-related programming directed toward children, teens, adults, and families.
Why libraries? A 2015 Pew Research Study indicated that 73% of people who visited a public library in America went there looking for answers about their health. Libraries are trusted community institutions that offer a non-threatening environment, are staffed with information experts, and provide free access to a wide variety of resources.
For the past six years, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries has helped foster significant partnerships at state and local levels to promote health and wellness. Federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowed ODL to offer health literacy grants to public libraries and adult literacy programs. As a result of this funding, grantees have targeted specific health needs of their community and expanded resources and services to address these needs.
Examples of local health literacy activities in Oklahoma in 2016-2017
Southern Oklahoma Library System hosted a number of health and wellness programs in public libraries throughout south central Oklahoma. Classes included everything from healthy cooking demonstrations and Tai Chi to a hay bale garden and chair exercise classes at a Veteran’s center.
Bartlesville Public Library Literacy Services offered 45 classes, including Stress Management, Preventing Influenza, and Healthy Aging. Special health presentations provided basic health and wellness information to adult learners participating in the adult literacy program.
Beaver County Pioneer Library helped children understand the importance of eating fruit and vegetables during the Grow It, Try It, Like It program. During the 4-week series, library staff shared books about fruits and vegetables, and community partners talked to parents and children about healthy eating. Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates classes were also available, free of charge, to members of the community.
Moore Public Library reached more than 2,835 children, teens and adults through more than 108 health and wellness classes. Their Argentine Tango Class provided a fun and interesting way to get participants up and moving. A Back to School Health Fair was attended by more than 255 community members.
Seminole Public Library collaborated with a number of community partners to promote physical activity with Jump Rope Clubs in six schools throughout the county. By the end of the project, participating third through eighth grade students improved their jumps per minute and body mass index. They also learned how to read food labels, why it is important to reduce sugar and salt consumption, and why exercise is good for heart health.
Western Oklahoma Learning Center in Elk City provided health wellness information to English language learners, seniors, and the community at large. Two family swim nights featuring water aerobics for all ages, and low intensity exercise classes were available to seniors. Twenty-six community members participated in the American Public Health Association’s Billion Step Challenge logging 12,960 steps.
Helpful Health Literacy Websites and Other Resources
Plain Language Resources—National Institute for Health
Simply Put—A guide for creating easy-to-understand materials
Health Literacy Information—National Network of Libraries of Medicine
YouTube video featuring adults with low literacy skills, including Toni Cordell from Oklahoma (23 minutes)—American Medical Association Foundation
Health.gov— an essential resource for health information
MedlinePlus—accurate health information from the National Library of Medicine. The site contains information, tutorials, videos and more.
2017 County Health Profiles for Oklahoma—reports focus on health factors of the residents of each county