It’s National Braille Literacy Month, and despite growing technology, braille is still important. 70% of blind adults are unemployed, but of those who are employed, 90% can read braille.
There are over 60,000 blind children in the U.S., but only 10% of blind students are learning to read with braille.
Literacy for blind students depends upon braille, and it’s proven to help them gain independence and employment as adults.
60% of blind students drop out of school, and not being able to read plays a huge part. Imagine not being able to reread a sentence as you’re learning new words or not being able to understand literature.
Partially sighted children are the ones most likely to be left behind in both print and braille reading.
85% of blind students go to public schools, but many states don’t require them to teach braille, despite how it helps prepare students for the future.
Students who learn braille are more likely to finish high school, go to college, have better self-esteem, and get jobs as adults.
I’ve said it before on here, but I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’m not always very good at making time for it. I read a lot of news but not that many actual books anymore. Funny, because I don’t have any furniture in my apartment, besides the books on books.
It’s been one of my goals to make it more of a priority again. In the past month, I’ve read both Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” (which has really wonderful and funny advice for young women), and I just started Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which makes me want to stop everything and write.
But there are lots of reasons to read and write every day. Rally, our wellness tool, has challenges for just that, so you can make your brain a priority. In one, it challenges you to read for 20 minutes, and in another, to write in a journal every day.
So what’s this doing for your health?
Reading has been shown to slow memory loss, increase concentration, and reduce stress. Not to mention, one study found that reading helped improve your social skills, your ability to understand others and their emotions, and your ability to feel for others. Reading can literally help you treat other people better!
Not to mention that taking 20 minutes a day to read with your kids can make an amazing difference in their education and development.
Not sure where to start? This 2015 Reading Challenge from Popsugar gives you goals without locking you into a set of books you wouldn’t choose for yourself.
So far I’ve got a funny book, a memoir, a mystery or thriller, and a book from an author I love that I haven’t read yet checked off for the year. What can you check off?
Writing for Your Health
And there are LOTS of reasons to keep a journal. Don’t believe me? Here are 101 reasons.
I’ve never been much of a journal writer (my writing brain drifts toward fiction), but as I’ve said here more than once, I love lists.
And that’s the beauty of keeping a journal! There’s always a way to make it work for you. Here are some alternatives to the traditional “Dear Diary” format.
Don’t want to write about your feelings? You can keep a journal without it being personal. Keeping a work journal can help you stay organized and productive.
A bullet journal helps you organize and categorize your tasks, events, notes, and ideas quickly with lists.
Do you want to mix things up in your writing? If you want to paint a picture one day and write fiction or poetry another, there are creative journal tips to help you.
I’ve been keeping a form of a bullet journal in my fitness binder on that handy grid paper I told you about. It’s really just a record of the most important things that happened to me that day that I can easily find later. I use other elements of this in my work to-do list and in organizing things like the social media topics I’ve done in the past. Below is a taste of what mine looks like, or this blog has really good examples of this in action.
(Don’t mind the ghost talk in the middle there if you can read it. That’s just me noting a plot idea for a fictional horror story.)
This lets me keep lists instead of trying to write a paragraph about things that don’t need any emotion or explanation. And my favorite part is it helps me organize things like character and story ideas, something I am known for jotting on anything around me until I have a strange collection of crumpled notes on things like napkins, CD sleeves, or even mail.
Head over to Rally, take your health assessment, and start meeting your goals for strengthening your mind!
I know we all think about ways to carve out more time in our busy lives, and I’m sure we’d all like to be more efficient. Sometimes I think getting by on less sleep is the way to go, but after looking into it, there are some problems with that solution.
There are lots of reasons you might not get enough sleep—illness, stress, family commitments, and job issues. Bad sleep habits, like irregular schedules and eating too much before bed, can lead to insomnia whether or not you’re actually trying to skip sleep. The causes of a bad night’s sleep seem endless, and so do the effects. But your primary care doctor can get you started on the right path to better sleep.
I can’t close my eyes to the fact that my sleep habits aren’t always the best, but I try to maintain a regular schedule. Typically, I read a few pages from a book with a serene topic before I drift off. For a while, I was concerned about afternoon drowsiness until I was able to tie the symptoms to carb loading at lunch. I also took a medicine that had vivid dreams as a possible side effect. My dreams are vivid enough as is. The medicine made them unbearable, so my doctor and I decided we would take another path.
My friend Karen Stefaniak is our wellness program administrator here at Health Alliance. She shared her knowledge on sleep.
“Recent studies are linking reduced sleep duration—five hours or less—to weight gain,” Stefaniak says. “Not getting enough sleep affects the two hormones that tell us when to eat and when to stop eating. People who are sleep-deprived produce more ghrelin, the hormone that tells us when to eat, and less leptin, the hormone that tells us when to stop. Plus, when we don’t get enough sleep, our metabolism slows down, and we tend to crave high-carbohydrate foods that provide a quick energy boost.”
So are we actually helping ourselves at all by sleeping less? Probably not. It lowers our waking quality of life and increases our risk for accidents, and it even makes us want to eat more. I think I need to consider a good night’s sleep a necessity rather than a luxury. You can rest easy knowing I will pay more attention to my sleep habits going forward.
Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.