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The Service of Literacy 

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The start of a New Year is often associated with new beginnings. It’s a time of year where many attempt to create new habits and rededicate themselves to things that may have fallen to the wayside during the previous year. Ironically, a season for serving others often becomes consumed with self service; leading us to forget the yearly struggles that many others in our communities, cities, and country face on a daily basis. One courageous example of this rededication for many citizens is the act of returning to school. For many adults, earning a college degree is a goal, but it’s a very distant one. They are more focused on the challenges and responsibilities of day to day life. Oh, then there’s the potential need toward the development of basic literacy skills.  

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Adult literacy or the lack thereof,  is something that is often overlooked. In many communities there's an idea that these deficiencies don't exist. I believe it’s called, “out of sight, out of mind.” There is ALWAYS an emphasis placed on teaching children how to read and write in order to better their futures but sometimes we fail to see that true learning usually starts at home. This has been backed by various studies and surveys, one of which has proven that 72% of children who have parents with low literacy skills are likely to struggle with literacy themselves. 43% of adults with limited literacy live in poverty while 70% receive some form of state or government assistance. Beyond just financial success, 75% of state prison inmates either didn’t finish high school or could be considered illiterate. Despite these bleak facts, it is clear that education and literacy helps improve individual’s quality of life. Inmates that finish their education are 43% less likely to return to prison than those that don’t.

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So what does this all mean? While all this information is important, how can it really be used to better our society? More importantly, how can our efforts help us work toward a better us? On a personal level? I believe it totally begins on a personal level. If you have strong relationships with others who struggle with literacy, try to show them support in that area however you can. Be prepared to offer them the encouragement and the confidence they need to take the first step. If they have children, maybe it would be cool to offer yourself or someone else to babysit?  If they’re struggling financially, and you potentially have the means to pay for a meal or even just help out with daily expenses, maybe it’s time to start doing so? This is what selflessness is all about. Right? I know it may seem like a lot and we all have our own lives to live. But the truth is, we’re all interconnected in this world. The success of others is also a success for us; but only when we’re willing to share in our rewards and accomplishments. In the eyes of many, attempting to go back to school is seemingly a step backward--implementing behaviors and achievements that should’ve been accomplished long ago. What’s rarely discussed are the predisposed barriers that cause these cycles of struggle for others.  

In the end, it’s important that adult literacy is recognized. If you can’t support a student or you don’t know anyone that struggles with literacy, keep adult literacy in mind. Be grateful that you’re able to read this article, but understand that there are many more that cannot. I always try to stay informed about programs and people around this issue. I also understand that there are many issues to be aware of in our broken world. So pick one! Even if it is not adult literacy deficiencies. Everyone has a part to play toward assisting our human race with the promise of achieving equality. 2018 will be much better than 2017 for many, as long as we keep a desire for selflessness top of mind.