Take a walk. Read a book.
A story walk is a fun and engaging activity for children and their families. Typically, an oversized children’s book is broken down into pages/sections and placed along an outdoor walking path. Families can walk along the path and read the story book with their children.
Most of these projects were funded with Health Literacy Grants to public libraries from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
This infographic shows health literacy data for the United States and describes how libraries can help increase health literacy in their communities.
Health Officials Release State Plan to Reduce Obesity
Over the last two decades, many states have seen a steady rise in obesity rates, including Oklahoma. Across the nation, 31.9% of the adult population are considered obese compared to 36.4% of adults in Oklahoma, which equates to approximately one million adults in our state’s population having obesity.
In 2019, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) engaged in a year-long process, bringing to the table partners from across the state to develop a State Obesity Plan.
“The plan focuses on strategies for each age group which can make a direct impact on the environment contributing to chronic health conditions, with a particular focus on obesity,” said Fahad Khan, Director of Community Analysis. “While the plan was coordinated by OSDH, it will take all partners working together to accomplish the goals and objectives set forth to achieve Governor Kevin Stitt’s goal of being a top 10 state.”
While personal responsibility will always be a component of weight management, the plan aims to identify environmental changes which will make it easier for all Oklahomans to choose to be healthier, and to encourage healthy habits and behaviors. This plan also aims to put resources and education in the hands of Oklahomans so the decisions they make can be well informed, but also supported by the environment in which they live.
2022 Wellness County Profiles Available
The 2022 Wellness County Profiles consist of Oklahoma maps (updated maps as well as new maps) and county dashboards which include data around the social determinants of health (SDoH), health outcomes, 4-5-61 concept (4 behaviors that lead to 5 chronic conditions that cause 61% of all deaths), area deprivation index, child opportunity index and life expectancy.
Additionally, the 2022 Inequity Hot Spot files consist of inequity hot spot maps, census tract and block group data and associated maps that will help you identify at-risk or high-risk areas in your county that could be hotspots for adverse health outcomes and low life expectancy due to social and economic deprivation.
The files were developed to understand the level of influence SDoH have in communities and to prioritize the investment of resources and service delivery in the truly high-risk areas/socially disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Gleason Memorial Library Holds Babysitting Course
On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Jefferson County OSU Extension Educator Tara Brown and the Gleason Memorial Library joined up to hold their first 4-H/Army Child & Youth Services Babysitting Course which included the American Heart Association's Heartsaver Class conducted by Stephens County, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Area Specialist of Health Disparities, Megan Monteith.
Library Director Renee Yocum said, "Some great students came out to participate. They worked hard all day and fully deserved their lunch break! They took the course seriously and I believe all of them have what it takes to be dependable babysitters."
Healthy Living programming made possible by a partnership with the Jefferson County OSU Extension and health literacy grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
Chef Crystal Wahpepah Demonstration at the Kickapoo Tribal Health Center
Chef Crystal Wahpepah gave a cooking demonstration at the Kickapoo Tribal Health Center in McLoud Oklahoma on April 5, 2022.
Chef Crystal shared her craft using in-season traditional Native ingredients. Chef Crystal is the owner of the popular Oakland, CA restaurant Wahpepah's Kitchen, and was the first Native American chef to appear on Food Network's Chopped.
Check out this condensed video of the program on YouTube.
“Health information is so important and so many people don’t understand how to ask the right questions. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you don’t know something. As long as you treat us with respect and show the right attitude, we’re not going to be offended by how many questions you have to ask us in order to help us find the information we’re looking for.” —Carol, adult learner from Tulsa
In 2019, the 30th annual America’s Health Rankings, produced by United Health Foundation, listed Oklahoma as one of the 5 least healthy states. Contributing to the low score were high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and low rates of physical inactivity, child immunizations and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Oklahoma ranked 46th overall.
More and more, there are opportunities for all types of organizations to collaborate to promote health and wellness in the community. Nationally and in Oklahoma, public libraries are resources for credible health information and sites for health-related programming directed toward children, teens, adults, and families.
Why libraries? A 2015 Pew Research Study indicated that 73% of people who visited a public library in America went there looking for answers about their health. Libraries are trusted community institutions that offer a non-threatening environment, are staffed with information experts, and provide free access to a wide variety of resources.
For the past few years, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries has helped foster significant partnerships at state and local levels to promote health and wellness. Federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowed ODL to offer health literacy grants to public libraries and adult literacy programs. As a result of this funding, grantees have targeted specific health needs of their community and expanded resources and services to address these needs.
Examples of local health literacy activities in Oklahoma
Southern Oklahoma Library System hosted a number of health and wellness programs in public libraries throughout south central Oklahoma. Classes included everything from healthy cooking demonstrations and Tai Chi to a hay bale garden and chair exercise classes at a Veteran’s center.
Bartlesville Public Library Literacy Services offered 45 classes, including Stress Management, Preventing Influenza, and Healthy Aging. Special health presentations provided basic health and wellness information to adult learners participating in the adult literacy program.
Beaver County Pioneer Library helped children understand the importance of eating fruit and vegetables during the Grow It, Try It, Like It program. During the 4-week series, library staff shared books about fruits and vegetables, and community partners talked to parents and children about healthy eating. Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates classes were also available, free of charge, to members of the community.
Moore Public Library reached more than 2,835 children, teens and adults through more than 108 health and wellness classes. Their Argentine Tango Class provided a fun and interesting way to get participants up and moving. A Back to School Health Fair was attended by more than 255 community members.
Seminole Public Library collaborated with a number of community partners to promote physical activity with Jump Rope Clubs in six schools throughout the county. By the end of the project, participating third through eighth grade students improved their jumps per minute and body mass index. They also learned how to read food labels, why it is important to reduce sugar and salt consumption, and why exercise is good for heart health.
Western Oklahoma Learning Center in Elk City provided health wellness information to English language learners, seniors, and the community at large. Two family swim nights featuring water aerobics for all ages, and low intensity exercise classes were available to seniors. Twenty-six community members participated in the American Public Health Association’s Billion Step Challenge logging 12,960 steps.
“This project gave our library a new focus based on a real community need. We have come away from this determined that providing for lifetime learning about ways to achieve healthy living will become one of our core programs.” —Marcia Johnson, Miami Public Library
“I am proud to say that I learned so much from the presenters. I have a heart issue and when I applied what I learned to my everyday life, I lost weight and feel great!” —adult learner from Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Oklahoma County
“As a result of this grant, the Noble Public Library became a hub for community members, organizations, and nonprofits to create new partnerships. We were able to assist local residents with access to health information and tools. Several participants are eager for the next round of classes, frequently coming by the library to ask about upcoming dates.” —Noble Public library