Adults who can't read are hiding in plain sight around Mid-Michigan

Published: Aug. 27, 2019 at 4:07 PM EDT
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(8/27/2019) - A silent crisis is affecting adults living in the Flint community right now who can't read.

They can't understand a bus schedule or comprehend information on a medicine bottle. One woman is working to improve adult literacy rates in the Flint community.

A year ago, something as simple as sounding out words would have been impossible for Phillip Lidell. However, at 53 years old, he's now just starting to get the hang of learning how to read and comprehend.

He said for most of his life, he would pretend he could read, only recognizing a few words, but things changed for father after enrolling in the New Beginnings Literacy Class at the COFY Center in Flint.

Retired Flint school teacher Melinda Anderson runs the free program, which she developed through the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network. The goal is to improve literacy in the community, especially on the north end.

There's a huge emphasis on helping those struggling later in life. Once enrolled, volunteers do an assessment and lesson plans are developed.

The curriculum is open ended with no end date. All of the work is done one-on-one in a setting decorated by Anderson with all of the materials once used in her classrooms.

According to the statistics, there are more than 36 million adults in the U.S. who cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level. About 8% of Michigan residents lack those basic skills.

When looking at Genesee County's population, that number goes to 10 percent.

Last year, there were between 30 to 60 students rolled in the New Beginnings Literacy Program, which is located at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church.

There are many adult programs located throughout the city. See Related Links on the right side or bottom of this story for more information on various programs and on how to volunteer.