Low literacy costs billions in productivity, health, safety

By The Editorial Board

Lack of reading, writing and basic math skills probably impacts the lives of more than 38,000 Horry County residents, and the number could be much higher.

The estimate is based on U.S. Census data showing that 38,621 Horry residents did not complete high school or a high school equivalency program. The high school graduate rate is the only local data currently tracked by the Horry County Literacy Council; executive director Angel Parry plans to generate much more local data.

Since starting in July, Parry’s main focus has been updating the council’s website, which is near completion, with a launch in September around the week of Sept. 24-30, National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. During AEFL week, the council is holding a fundraiser on Sept. 26 in Murrells Inlet.

The Horry County Literacy Council started in 1976 and has programs with one-on-one help in reading and spelling for people with learning difficulties, including dyslexia; learning and improving English; General Educational Development test preparation; and Read & Create. HCLC has 75 active tutors, helping people from ages 7 to 54.

In its third year, Read & Create had 55 children in a summer camp in Longs. Participants read a book, such as “The Giving Tree,” discuss it with their tutors, then do a painting or drawing.

“Combining reading and artistic expression helps a child’s self-esteem,” Parry said.

Read & Create was developed by Annette Staehle of Murrells Inlet. The program will run for eight weeks this fall at Socastee Elementary School, in conjunction with an ESL program and again in early 2018. Staehle is vice president of the HCLC board.

ProLiteracy, the nation’s largest organization working for adult literacy and basic education, says 15 percent of U.S. residents without a diploma don’t have jobs.

“About one in six adults is still not literate, and approximately 67.4 million school-age children are not enrolled in school,” Parry said.

“Low literacy costs the nation more than $200 billion each year in lost productivity, as well as an additional $1 billion to $2 billion in health and safety issues,” said Kevin Morgan, ProLiteracy president and CEO.

The HCLC board is actively seeking at least two members to fill openings on the 12-member board. Pat Bush, former executive director and active with the council for many years, is the board president. The 10 active members include three new men.

Parry considers North Carolina home and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Mount Olive College. She was vice president of community impact for the Cape Fear Area United Way and most recently was training director for the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

Fundraiser Sept. 26

During Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, the Horry County Literacy Council is holding a word game fundraiser Sept. 26 at East Grill & Pub, 911 Riverwood Drive, Murrells Inlet. Tickets are $15 per person in advance or $20 at the door. Up to 48 persons will play in two-person teams.

For more information on the fundraiser and the council, contact Angel Parry, executive director.

Horry County Literacy Council

923 North Kings Highway

Myrtle Beach

Phone | 843-839-1695

email | Angel.Parry.HCLC@gmail.com


Mail | P.O. Box 806

Myrtle Beach, SC 29578