UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Promoting Health of Older Immigrants

The Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships (CYFCP) is recruiting 20 AmeriCorps members to improve health care for immigrant and refugee seniors in Greensboro.

Supported by a $50,000 grant from MetLife and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Immigrant Health Literacy Program (IHELP) will provide health screenings and teach English, citizenship and health literacy to elders from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The AmeriCorps members will also lead recreational activities to promote interaction among immigrants.

“This program will allow us to provide essential health information to older immigrants and refugees living in the community,” said Mandy Benson, CYFCP’s community health program manager. “Not only will we be promoting healthy aging, but also strengthening social connections for these elders.”

AmeriCorps members, working about 10 hours per week from April through November, will gain leadership experience, learn about other cultures and improve the lives of hundreds of immigrant and refugee elders. They will receive a $1,500 stipend and a $1,132 end-of-term education award.

Access to healthcare and effective communication with healthcare professionals are among the biggest challenges faced by immigrants. Responding to this need, the Intergenerational Center at Temple University launched Project SHINE, a successful health literacy initiative, which led to a partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps.

The program offers an opportunity for AmeriCorps members to educate and to be educated, Benson said. “People who worked with the Temple program say they learned as much as they taught. They met people of a different age and a different culture. They came away with a deeper sense of the world community.”

The Immigrant Health Literacy Program is an extension of Project SHINE that capitalizes on the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships’ expertise in health literacy education. The program will serve a large community: At the beginning of 2006, about 65,000 immigrants from more than 115 countries, speaking more than 136 different languages, lived in Guilford County.

The center has been involved in local efforts to improve health literacy since the fall of 2005, when it became a founding member of the Guilford County Health Literacy Forum. Although low health literacy can affect anyone, minorities, older adults, recent immigrants and those with limited literacy are disproportionately affected.

Low health literacy can affect a patient’s ability to read consent forms, written medical information and prescription labels. It can also prevent a patient from understanding and remembering spoken instructions from health care providers.

For more information, contact Mandy Benson of the Center for Youth Family and Community Partnerships at 4-4677 or mmbenson@uncg.edu. To apply to participate in the Project SHINE Health Literacy Program, visit www.americorps.gov.