INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Reach Out and Read Colorado gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. By building on the unique relationship between parents and health care providers, Reach Out and Read Colorado helps families and communities encourage early literacy skills so children enter school prepared for success. Come join the movement!
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
WHY BOOKS? The most important activity for building knowledge for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
WHY NOW? A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to three—producing 700 new neural connections every second. And, 90% of a child’s brain develops before age five.
WHY PROVIDERS? 96% of children under age five see their doctor at least once year. Health care providers have early access to families and are a trusted source of health information. Making books a part of preventative visits allows health care providers to observe fine motor skills, language, literacy and parent-child interaction.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Families that participate in the program read to their children more often, sharing books two or more times per week. Children’s language and reading skills are improved, helping young brains to develop and strengthening bonds between parent and child.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The providers we work with and the families we support. Thinking about the fact that oftentimes we’re providing families with their very first books (and sometimes, only books) is an overwhelming impact. Additionally, I regularly hear from our health care providers that having the opportunity to prescribe our books is the best part of their day.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My big dream for our organization is that our mission truly becomes a standard part of care for all of Colorado’s children. Currently, Reach Out and Read Colorado reaches about 125,000 young children annually; it’s my dream that every young child would receive an early literacy prescription at every well child visit across the state, every day.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Donations and volunteers.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Our biggest challenge has been scaling up our program and keeping up with demand! Since the first book was prescribed in 1997, our organization has prescribed more than 1.85 million books to Colorado children and every day, new practices and providers are interested in signing up for the program. Balancing this growth with providing our program at a high quality and exploring new initiatives has always been a focus of ours. We continue to walk this line every day.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
“If you go on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll go on getting what you’ve always got—which may be less than you want, or deserve.”—Warren Bennis.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Follow Reach Out and Read Colorado on social, engage with us, and share out the messages. Visit our website and click around, learn something new.
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