Local doctors and churches support program

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For many children across South Carolina, literacy is a problem. Reach Out and Read prepares children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals who then encourage parents to read regularly with their children and distribute free, developmentally- and culturally-appropriate books.
The Reach Out and Read program works with families of children from 6 months to 5 years of age at each well-child checkup, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities.
Through this regular intervention, parents learn that reading aloud is the most important thing they can do to ensure that their children enter school ready to learn. Doctors provide the essential link between healthy minds and healthy bodies, and encourage parents in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher.
More than 30 percent of children in Lancaster County live in poverty. Currently, the Reach Out and Read program serves more than 1,900 of those children by providing two books per year at six certified medical clinics in Lancaster County.
In 2012, more than 3,500 books were given out at the following local sites: DHEC, Children First, Sentinel, Mackey Family Practice - Lancaster, Mackey Family Practice - Indian Land and Barnett Family Practice.
The goal of Reach Out and Read is to provide every impoverished child with a new book when they visit their doctor at their yearly physical. Annually, the cost to do this in Lancaster County is about $19,000. Statewide it is about $1.1 million. Local funding is currently provided by the United Way of Lancaster County,
Recently, Reach Out and Read was adopted by three local organizations as part of the United Way Days of Caring: Lancaster High School JAG class, Thomas & Betts and Zion United Methodist Church Youth Group. More than 218 new or gently used books were collected as part of this initiative.
Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.

Laura Moore
Reach Out and Read public relations