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Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion
(Matthews and Sewell, 2002). For example, the state of California has developed a tool to aid health education curriculum development at the local level and to promote collaborations between schools, parents, and the community, called “Health Framework for California’s Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve” and the State of Alaska produced “Healthy Reading Kits” for grades 2 through 8 (Matthews and Sewell, 2002). The state of New Jersey has implemented core curriculum content standards for comprehensive health and physical education programs which include health literacy. The goal of the standards is to develop citizens who are both health-literate and physically educated. The standards for comprehensive health and physical education emphasize six primary areas (Morse, 2002):
Behaviors that cause intentional and unintentional injuries
Drug and alcohol use
Sexual behaviors that lead to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, and unintended pregnancy
Inadequate physical activity
Dietary patterns that cause disease
Federal programs to address health literacy include the “Media Smart Youth” program developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and associated with Centers for Disease Control youth media “VERB” campaign (CDC, 2002). With support from the Academy for Educational Development (Academy for Educational Development, 2002), NICHD has developed this youth health and fitness media literacy campaign, which has the potential to enhance 9- to 13-year-old after-school programs’ curriculums in health literacy. Another example of federal activity in health literacy is the Curriculum Linking Science Education and Health Literacy program, funded by the National Center for Research Resources. The goal of this project was to transform the food experiences of inner-city children, teachers and parents, and caregivers into an inquiry-based science program. Barton and colleagues (2001) reported that mothers who spend time engaged in science activities with their children are more likely to have a more personal, dynamic, and inquiry-based view of science; whether this also affects parent’s or children’s health literacy is unclear.
The private sector has also developed approaches which may improve health literacy in youth. Inflexxion® Incorporated has developed “Special Report” (Inflexicon, 2001), a curriculum-based tobacco education program for middle and junior high school students, supported by the National Cancer Institute small business innovative research program. The short