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Sonora, CA — The Mother Lode’s new nonprofit “public health literacy” proponent has gotten a financial shot in the arm that, come fall, will inoculate high school students with new learning.

HealthLitNow (HLN) has been awarded three grants totaling just over $37,000 that it is now using to develop and deliver a targeted program to Tuolumne County schools for seventh through ninth grade students. As previously reported, HLN, an off-shoot partner of Tuolumne County’s Sonora-based Innovation Lab, launched last year to develop public health literacy courses for K-12 local and regional students.

“[The new] program will go both to the primary high schools, Summerville…Sonora, but then it will also go to the elementary schools, as well as charter schools, then specialty schools, like Cassina,” states HLN President-Director Barry Hillman. The reason for selecting that age group, he says, is because, according to the school superintendent’s office, those students have not yet seen a guidance counselor to map out their curriculum.

Along with providing personal healthcare education, the program seeks to provide exposure to potential careers and coursework they might need, should they be interested in bridging into a healthcare-related pathway. Along with high school offerings, pathway options might include certificate programs at Columbia College or further higher education elsewhere.

Through the supportive program funding, “We feel very confident now that we can provide something very effective, interesting, and [engaging] for these kids,” Hillman enthuses, adding that former Tuolumne County Chief Health Officer and current HLN Vice President Dr. Todd Stolp is among the collaborators. As a culmination of the workshop, Hillman shares that HLN also plans a Healthcare Workforce Day at the Innovation Lab, to be scheduled sometime in April 2016, that will also involve students from other grades.

In breaking down funding for the program, HLN indicates $11,965 comes from the Statewide Office of Healthcare Planning and Development (OSHPD); $10,000 from the Tuolumne County Department of Behavioral Health, and $15,080 from Sonora Area Foundation.