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Low Literacy is a Social Determinant of Health

Published on 10/21/2022

From the Desk of the Executive Director

As we recognize Health Literacy Month this October, I am reminded of a story which illustrates the impact of literacy on health outcomes. I was teaching a class of Latinx -- mothers whose children attended the Wilmington Head Start program. During a health unit, a speaker came in to present on Breast Cancer and mammograms. In preparation, we worked on vocabulary and communicating with your doctor.

Four months later while speaking with staff from Head Start, I learned about a situation that affects me even today. Rosa had made a medical appointment for herself in English. She had felt a lump in her breast earlier in the year, and after having studied about health, Rosa understood about the testing she should have and felt comfortable enough to call to schedule a mammogram. Fortunately, her results were negative.

Rosa represents many of our Learners whose improved reading and English language skills help them better navigate their and their families’ healthcare needs, leading to better outcomes.

Delaware advances literacy through training, tutoring, English language acquisition and advocacy for all Delawareans.