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Health Literacy Month: Celebrating health literacy in communities

Updated: Nov 13, 2018

October is Health Literacy Month – a time to highlight health literacy activities around the world and celebrate the many achievements. We’re really excited to celebrate with our partners! Since our inception, the team at Health Literacy Media (HLM) has excelled in working with our community partners. We have focused on work with communities geographically closest to our home in Missouri and around the world. Over the past 2 years, we’ve been particularly lucky to partner with groups in 4 Missouri communities – Hannibal, Monett, Poplar Bluff, and Salem.

Throughout October, we’re going to highlight our work with communities, sharing a little about what we did together, as well as how and why we improved health literacy and health by working as partners in communities.

When we launched the 4 Missouri-based community projects, the HLM team was particularly excited to engage with a diverse range of communities – some that we’d previously partnered with on health literacy activities, and some brand new to us (and brand new to health literacy, period). At the beginning of the partnerships, especially those partnerships new to HLM, we had several questions:

  • Would these communities welcome our health literacy activities? Maybe they wouldn’t see a fit for health literacy? Maybe the timing was poor?

  • Who gets to decide for a community whether or not to engage in such a partnership?

  • Is anyone else already doing work like this in the community? How do we fit with those efforts?

  • What’s a great community partnership look like? Particularly when there are limited financial resources and they may not be sustainable?

As we highlight each community throughout the month, we’ll share what we learned in response to these and other questions that emerged during our work. We’ll highlight the many partners involved in successful activities in each community, from our partners at the Missouri Foundation for Health (read MFH’s perspective on the community work here), who provided small ‘boost funds’ to support projects in each community, to the individual community groups and members visioning and then implementing the activities in these 4 communities, including weekly trail walks, healthy cooking demonstrations, health education, and many more.

Our goal in blogging with our partners is to spread a few core ideas. Here’s the preview:

  • Communities know what they need – if you want to create informed and healthy behavior change using health literacy, the first steps are always to show up, ask community members good questions, and truly listen to their answers, especially when their answers are different from what you expected. Amazing work will result!

  • Every project doesn’t have to be ‘innovative’ or ‘cutting-edge.’ When communities identify issues, and there’s a tested, affordable, and acceptable strategy from another community, it makes a lot of sense to give it a go. Maybe you make some tweaks, maybe not. There is elegance and innovation in matching workable solutions to identified problems.

  • Small projects can have a huge impact – large financial investments are not required (although, it’s always really nice). People power is the magic!

We are excited to share our work in communities in Missouri and around the world with you during Health Literacy month this year! By partnering with communities to apply the best practices of health literacy, we continue to help communities empower themselves to live healthier and happier lives. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how to put health literacy to work in your community!


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