Today marks the kickoff of Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) week, a weeklong awareness campaign with activities, toolkits, and information about the great need for literacy programs that serve adult learners. 36 million adults in the United States struggle with literacy, which has an effect on every portion of their lives from employability to civic participation. AEFL week was designated by the United States Congress, and is organized annually by the National Coalition for Literacy and its purpose is not only to raise awareness of the issue of Adult Literacy, but also to celebrate learners who pursue the goal of becoming literate citizens alongside all of the other issues that keep them from living out their dreams.
We at Literacy Mid-South, and you, readers of this blog, know how severe the costs of low literacy are to low literate adults themselves and for us as the public. But not everyone is aware of the costs, or of the unique trials that low literate adults face. In the Mid-South, the toll of low literacy is high. Low literate adults stand to make less money for themselves and their families over the courses of their lives. They may have difficulty even finding employment, or paying bills, or taking prescription medicine, or reading their childrens’ homework–the list is long and varied.
Adult Education and Family Literacy week is also about engaging the public in the issue of adult literacy on multiple levels. For Literacy Mid-South, as a service provider, our responsibility is to share information on either learners or a partner that is doing great work, and we’ll do that soon. For supporters and those who believe in Literacy Mid-South’s Mission, your responsibility (should you choose to accept it) is reaching out to policymakers and spreading awareness to your networks on the issues that low-literate adults face. You can do this many ways: through pointing people that you know to our blog or website, through writing an opinion piece about the issue to your local newspaper, or by writing a letter to your city, county, and state representatives.
If you need any assistance with writing letter or opinion pieces, the National Coalition for Literacy has some templates and a resource guide that you can use. If you want more information about the work that Literacy Mid-South does, check out our website. You can make a donation there as well. And if you would like to visit us and learn more about what we do first-hand, reach out. Call (901) 327-6000 to schedule an information session with Adult Learning Program staff.