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Rockford is using poetry to spread health literacy messages

Provided by Giulyana Gamero

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A northern Illinois teenager is using her voice to help shed light on disparities in health care.

Giulyana Gamero, the youth poet laureate of Rockford, is working with Rockford Ready for its health initiative. This organization is led by Rockford’s Health and Human Services Department. Rockford Ready works to increase health literacy for the city’s residents.

Gamero said the inspiration for the poems she’s writing comes from a familiar place.

“It stems from my personal experiences of wanting to help my dad because my dad, his first language is Spanish,” she explained. “There are kids my age who have to act as translators for their parents, when it comes to health care settings.”

Gamero said the goal is to give people the confidence to ask questions and advocate for themselves when they are in a healthcare environment.
Anqunette Parham is the executive director of Health and Human Services for the city of Rockford. She said the youth poet laureate has a great story and the ability to communicate beautifully.

“It was really a great opportunity for us to utilize her gifts and talents to be able to help further the importance of health literacy,” she said. “And also for her as a young Latina to share her story and share some of her experiences artistically.”

Parham said the poems will be used at arts focused events in the community. They will also be used in video productions that promote health literacy.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.

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Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.