News Release

Friday, March 29, 2002

Contact: George Stinnett, CHKD, (757) 668-7424

Daily Press Gift Benefits CHKD Pediatric Literacy Program

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.-A recent contribution of $16,500 from the Daily Press Community Giving program will be used to benefit a unique literacy initiative established by Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters this past June. Reach Out and Read uses well-child visits to the pediatrician to emphasize the importance of books and reading during the first five years of life and supplies a library of books to each child in the program. It features pediatricians providing information about reading that makes it as fundamental to a check-up as giving immunizations. The program was established at six CHKD Medical Group practices across Hampton Roads and in northeastern North Carolina. The Daily Press gift will buy books for two Medical Group practices on the Peninsula and one in Suffolk, allowing the program to expand to further sites in Hampton Roads. They are Hampton Roads Pediatrics in Hampton, Newport News Pediatrics and Suffolk Pediatrics; among those three, approximately 6,400 well-child visits are conducted annually. "To have a part in providing the very first books a child will ever own and perhaps inspiring a lifelong love of reading was a wonderfully compelling opportunity for the Daily Press," said Melissa Hespenhide, the newspaper's community relations manager. "Reach Out and Read's innovative approach in encouraging literacy development is so well aligned with our business and our interest in supporting community service programs that strengthen families, particularly those that are disadvantaged." Beth Duke, CHKD's senior vice president for community relations, lauded the generosity and vision of the Daily Press: "We're extremely pleased to have the Daily Press partner with us on this important effort to help our region's children get off to a good start and to give them the tools and potential for life-long success." Reach Out and Read takes advantage of regularly scheduled well-child visits to reach parents of children ages 6 months to five years. Hence, literacy development is integrated into pediatric primary care for preschool children. As part of each well-child visit for the target group, the pediatrician or nurse practitioner gives the child a brand new, age-appropriate book. Additionally, the doctor comments on the child's abilities and counsels the parent on how to use books to support the child's healthy development. The pediatrician then presents the parent with a "prescription" that encourages parents to read aloud to their young children every day. By age 5, the child will have a library of books furnished by the Reach Out and Read program to share with family and friends. Reach Out and Read was created in 1989 by pediatricians and educators at Boston City Hospital. Since that time, hundreds of communities throughout the nation have been accepted as official Reach Out and Read sites. And a three-year study published in the January 2001 issue of Pediatrics, the professional journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that children participating in clinic-based Reach Out and Read programs benefited significantly from improved language development and later reading ability and school motivation and performance. "Reach Out and Read strengthens the link between literacy and a healthy childhood," said CHKD executive medical director Albert B. Finch, M.D. "For more than a decade, this initiative has been building relationships between parents and medical providers who see the importance of helping children develop a love of books and reading."