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Monday, February 2, 2004

Working for literacy


Making life better

If you believe that the key to being a productive member of society - and to staying away from a life of crime - is a good, basic education, you may appreciate a particular project the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati is undertaking.

The network is sponsoring an Adult Basic Reading Program at the Lebanon Correctional Institute. After a pilot cycle taught by learning disabilities specialist Kay Wagner, the class is being led by network staff teacher Carol Philips.

The program begins by teaching the sounds that each letter makes, then building from there. It also concentrates on handwriting, spelling, listening and other skills. Network officials say it's needed because many inmates read only minimally or not at all.

According to Stephanie Graves, LNGC executive director, 70 percent of Ohio inmates read at or below the third grade level. This is in many cases the result of reading disabilities, which often have gon undiagnosed and untreated. "We feel that our program will be of great value to the inmates who so desperately need this intervention," Graves said.

Lebanon Correctional Institute was chosen for the program because it had a long-term population and was willing to accommodate an on-site class. The first class had 14 students.

The Literacy Network is an umbrella agency for more than 50 area literacy programs, and serves as a contact center for adult education programs.

It also offers Adult Basic Reading Program classes to the general population, a service that helps to fill a real need. According to national statistics, between 13 percetn and 20 percent of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate. An estimated 200,000 adults in Greater Cincinnati need assistance with reading and other basic educational issues.

In the National Literacy Act of 1991, literacy is defined as "an individual's ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

For more information on the network's programs, call (513) 621-READ.

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Do you know of a development, a creation or an act of inspiration that you think makes life better in Greater Cincinnati? Contact Ray Cooklis at (513)768-8525; e-mail rcooklis@enquirer.com




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