Health literacy overview
According to Healthy People 2010, the average annual health care cost of a person with very low literacy (2nd grade and below) may be up to four times greater than the general population. People with low health literacy are more likely to report poor health, be unable to understand health problems and treatments, and be at greater risk of hospitalization. Approximately 225,000 people in the Kansas City metropolitan area read at less than a 6th grade reading level. People who acquire more education not only are healthier and practice fewer health risk behaviors, but their children also are healthier and practice fewer health risk behaviors.
The Health Department's Health Literacy Initiative served to help improve the general health literacy of Kansas City residents. The initiative sought to encourage and facilitate improved literacy in Kansas City’s children and parents by making available health related reading materials to schools for children, who may also take home the information for parents to read with the children.
The 2009-2010 Health Literacy Project focused on provision of Healthy Reader Newspapers for second grade elementary students and Career Reader Newspapers that provided public health career and general health information to 9th and 10th graders. Both the elementary and high school level projects met grade level expectations for the students.
Nine schools from the Kansas City, Mo., North Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Center school districts, along with St. Vincent's Operation Breakthrough and Cristo Rey Kansas City High School participated with the project.
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