Adult ESOL programs like ours at East and West Area Adult Schools in Auburndale and Lakeland, Florida serve students in many ways. Focusing on health literacy is one way that we can have a huge impact not just on our students, but on their families as well. As the head of the ESOL department at West Area, I knew we needed to improve the way we address health literacy in our program, because I have seen evidence of the gaps in students’ knowledge and know how dangerous that can be in their lives outside of the classroom. This could be when there’s an emergency situation, when they need to manage a chronic disease, or they need to see a medical professional but lack the skill to communicate with him or her in English.
The Health Literacy Grant we received from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida has been a huge help in our efforts to prepare our students to deal with health situations. We were able to purchase hands-on materials, visual aids, flip charts, and other items to help our students grasp these topics. We purchased a new text series called “Health Stories” that we are using to help our lower-level ESOL students learn more about health. We arranged training for twenty students in Adult CPR, and they received their certification. We gave out health promotion materials focusing on hand washing habits, finding ways to exercise, and steps to healthier eating. It has been a very positive experience for all of us, students and teachers alike, and we have all learned a lot in the process that will help us reach the goal of better health in the future.
ESOL Department Head
West Area Adult School (Polk County Schools)
For more information on Florida’s Health Literacy Initiative, please check out our website.