The Sarasota Family YMCA Receives Health Literacy Grant from Florida Blue

The Sarasota Family YMCA has been awarded a one-year $5,000 grant for the implementation of a health literacy program to benefit its Adult ESOL and family literacy students. 

This grant, awarded by Florida Blue and the Florida Literacy Coalition, will integrate health and nutrition into the Y’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) curriculum. The focus is to help students acquire information and resources that will help them navigate the medical system and make informed health decisions.

There is a 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. Health Literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.  

There is a 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% 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% having below basic health literacy, and 2) foreign born adults who have English as their second language.

Adults with low literacy levels often fail to engage in early detection and preventive health care. They also have significant difficulties navigating the health care system and following their doctors’ treatment plans. Florida ranks 33rd out of 50 states in the 2011 study “America’s Health Rankings.”  The state’s greatest health challenges include a high rate of uninsured population, a low high school graduation rate, and high prevalence of diabetes.

The Florida Health Literacy Initiative provides training, resources and funding to assist Florida ESOL and family literacy programs to integrate health education into their instruction. The object is to help students develop basic literacy and English language skills while gaining information to make informed choices regarding their health and nutrition.

The award was officially presented during the 31st Annual Florida Literacy Conference in April.

“The support of this initiative reflects Florida Blue’s commitment to helping adult learners, many of whom are new to this country, become informed health advocates for themselves and their families,” said Greg Smith, executive director of Florida Literacy Coalition. “We look forward to working together with the Sarasota YMCA and its HIPPY program to raise awareness about health literacy.

The Sarasota YMCA is one of 17 grant recipients selected for the sixth grant year of this statewide initiative.  

PY Coordinator Valerie Reeves shows off the new garden planted by students in the Health Literacy program.