Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland School of Public Health is partnering with the Atlantic General Hospital to integrate a set of health literacy standards into public school curriculum in Worcester County, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
This will be the first set of health literacy standards developed for a public school system in Maryland and will allow K-8 teachers from Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) to incorporate public health education into their daily lessons.
Once implemented, the program will serve as a prototype for future programs across Maryland and potentially nationwide.
Ultimately, it will increase student capacity as informed, empowered health consumers, said Dr. Linda Aldoory (pictured right), endowed chair and director of the Center for Health Literacy and associate professor of behavioral and community health.
"To reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes, we need to find ways to instill in younger health consumers the ability to understand health information and the confidence to advocate for themselves as health consumers," she said.
The project is funded by the Atlantic Hospital, through a grant to them from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Perdue Farms. The goal is to create a pilot program that can be adaptable for every grade level and could be implemented in the WCPS System - which includes over a dozen schools - as early as the 2014-2015 academic year. The program will also be adaptable across disciplines. Lessons could range from tasks as simple as hand washing during a kindergarten class to activities like calculating calories based on food labels during math class.
"By getting to students when they are young with evidence-based health literacy techniques, we can build a community of future health literate high school students, who take with them the lessons learned when they enter the health care settings and when they receive health messages," Aldoory said.