Author: Kathleen Mulroy
Marcia Wilson, Executive Director, Panhandle Alliance for Education; Kathleen Mulroy, READY! for Kindergarten Director, Panhandle Alliance for Education; Sheryl Rickard, Administrator/CEO, Bonner General Health; Terri Fortner, Community Development Director, Bonner General Hospital & Foundation
“What better way to say welcome to our new families than the gift of community support and encouragement from educators and health practitioners?” Sheryl Rickard, Bonner General Health’s Administrator/CEO, expressed enthusiasm for a new program called “Books for Babies.” The program was recently announced at Panhandle Alliance for Education’s annual Summer Sunset Gala, a fund-raising event benefiting public schools in our community.
“Life-long learning begins at birth, and it’s vital that new parents receive this message early and often,” added the Panhandle Alliance’s Board President, David Slaughter.
Studies show that when parents read out loud regularly, their baby will develop more advanced literacy skills, including mathematics and language. And possessing better skills invariably leads to a happier and more successful school experience – which positively impacts the child throughout life.
To encourage new parents to instill a love of reading in their little ones, the Panhandle Alliance for Education requested and received a grant from the Phyllis Harris Townsend Fund at the Idaho Community Foundation. Through this grant, a total of 350 “Books for Babies” kits from the United for Libraries/American Library Association will be presented by the Panhandle Alliance to Bonner General Health in the coming year. This means that 350 parents of babies born at Bonner General Hospital will receive a kit which includes a high-quality board book, baby’s first library card (to be taken to the public library to exchange for a real card), a “Books for Babies” bib, brochures from national reading organizations with reading tips for parents, and a READY! for Kindergarten brochure.
Terri Fortner, Community Development Director at Bonner General Hospital & Foundation, says, “We are very excited about this partnership between the Panhandle Alliance for Education, BGH, and the Idaho Community Foundation. It shows that our community cares deeply about the healthy growth and development of our newest citizens.”