Thanks to a recent grant from the state of Ohio, children visiting Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley pediatricians or specialists will continue to receive a “prescription for reading” from their physician, along with any other medicines they may need to feel better.
The reading prescription, which comes with a brand new book for the child to keep, is part of the Reach Out and Read program, a national campaign that promotes early literacy through partnerships with medical providers. For the coming year, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley will sustain its Reach Out and Read efforts through $10,000 in funding from an Early Literacy Reading Grant of more than $77,000 recently awarded to the region.
The grant supports a collaborative, family-centered, early reading effort by the hospital, the Western Reserve Local School District and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.
“The Reach Out and Read program uses well-child visits for children up to five years old as an opportunity to encourage kids to read as part of their healthy development,” says Francine McBride, program education coordinator in Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s Community Outreach, Education and Support Center.
The hospital has implemented Reach Out and Read at 18 sites throughout the Mahoning Valley, including the Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics offices in Boardman and Warren, the pediatric specialists at the Boardman Medical Pavilion, the Ambulatory Care Center at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders on the Beeghly campus, and the hospital’s Community Outreach, Education and Support Center. The grant dollars fund “Book in a Bag” reading activity kits.
Due to the economic circumstances of many families, the book kits provided by the Reach Out and Read program may be the only new book that a child will receive this year. Because the program’s age limit is five-year-olds, the staff keeps a collection of gently used books on hand to give to older kids who may be visiting – so they can learn to love reading, too.
“Our collaborations with the local schools, the library and other community organizations are so important,” adds McBride. “These are relationships that help us reach out to so many more children and families in the Mahoning Valley. We’re all working together to promote the love of learning and family bonding – which we know books can definitely provide.”