Grant Targets Health Literacy in Creek County

Creek County 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. Workshops scheduled to date include “What’s that weird thing in the produce department?”, “Domestic Violence Prevention”, “Your guide to a healthy brain”, “Overview of DHS Adult and Family Services”, “Container Gardening/Fresh Herbs” and “Simple ways to use fruits and vegetables”.

“We are excited to collaborate with other organizations to carry out this effort,” Executive Director Melissa Struttmann said. Partners to date include the Creek County Health Department, Natural Grocers, Life Senior Services, DVIS – Sapulpa, Walgreens, DHS – Creek County and OSU Cooperative Extension, with other collaborations being finalized. “Together, we hope to make a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens 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,” Creek County Executive Director, Melissa Struttmann said. “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

To learn more about the local effort, contact Melissa Struttmann at 918-224-9647.

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