Teaching Health and Safety
Since 1980, North Carolina’s Latino population has grown almost 400 percent — twice the national average. Many of those newest to the state don’t have access to literacy, health, or safety information because English is their second language.
UNC-TV’s adult learning services manager, Dr. Ronald Plummer, sought to address the problem. He joined with health literacy experts to conduct workshops to teach health literacy across North Carolina.
Communicating and building trust in the Latino community was an immediate challenge. To reach this new audience, Plummer sought the expertise of partners in the community. He worked with partners who already had communication lines open and could easily spread the word.
“Community partners already deal with the issues and can help identify new ones on a day-to-day basis,” says Plummer.
Individuals from The North Carolina Community College System, El Pueblo (NC’s largest Latino advocacy and health group), Duke University Medical Center, UNC Schools of Medicine, the NC Literacy Association, and many others came together for two Leadership Summits funded through grants from the National Center for Outreach. The goal was to address the literacy, health and safety issues of Latinos.
According to Plummer, communication was key to getting the summit process to work. Many of the groups had never worked together, so trust was an issue.
Victor Dau, director of Randolph Community College’s Small Business Center, served as the facilitator for the summits. The biggest challenge, he says, was “getting all the people to become aware of the issues and communicate with each other.” But meeting that challenge was worth the effort.
“Now, people know contact people from business, health care, social services, public library systems, community colleges and hospices who can help,” he rejoices. “The dialog and avenue of communication has been started. People now know more about who to contact and what stages of health literacy and workplace safety can be addressed — and by whom.”