Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Some people may not be able to imagine living their entire lives without knowing how to read, write or do arithmetic, but that is the reality for many people in the midlands. Turning Pages, a nonprofit adult literacy organization, is trying to change that.
"Things that we take for granted, adults with learning challenges face all the time," said Chris Matthews, the director for Turning Pages.
Matthews says it is more than just not being able to read a book. The inability to read makes it difficult to navigate a grocery store, follow street names, or read labels on food and medicine.
"Those words are too difficult for them," Matthews says, "It's like they're living on an island of misunderstanding."
"It's hard," said 39-year-old James Pratt, "You have to be around somebody who knows how to read."
Pratt says he was passed through his high school classes without ever knowing how to read.
Matthews says a person is never too old to learn how to read or write. Their eldest student is 86-year-old Eartha Halmon.
"It helps me out so much," Halmon said.
Halmon says her father took her out of school when she was young.
"She had to work, she couldn't go to school," said Gerda Willmeth, Halmon's teacher.
Willmeth says Halmon has made progress in just the few months she has been taking classes.
"Her progress right now is... her ABC's? I can read them now," Willmeth joked.
"Our work is to help them do that so they can unlock the world," Matthews said.
Halmon says there is only one thing she wants to do.
"[I want] to read my Bible," Halmon said.
Turning Pages is run completely by volunteers and Matthews says they are always looking for adult tutors.
The program is free for anyone who would like to improve on their literacy.