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April 18, 2014
By Samantha Cole, media relations assistant
Thanks to the dedication and persistence of one faculty member, Northwest Missouri State University and the Maryville community are partnering on a literacy awareness program that is spreading across the country.
Reach Out and Read is a non-profit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by offering new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.
Dr. Pradnya Patet, assistant professor in the Department of Professional Education, worked as a training specialist for Southwest Human Development in Arizona before coming to Northwest in 2009 and saw the program’s benefits first-hand.
“After coming to Maryville I saw the potential the program had here and wanted to get started immediately,” Patet said. “It’s such an amazing program that makes a difference in the lives of children who might not get this opportunity otherwise.”
Here’s how it works: During “well child check-ups” at St. Francis Hospital and Health Services, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old will receive a book to take home that is tailored to their age. Parents of the children will also receive knowledgeable information about literacy awareness and recommendations for daily family book sessions.
Patet works with Dr. J. Michael Feuerbacher, a family practitioner at St. Francis Hospital and Health Services, to coordinate the program for the hospital and the University. One hundred percent of St. Francis physicians who conduct well child check-ups are participating in the program.
“We’ve worked really hard to gain sponsors for the program and the support of the community,” Patet said. “The community’s response has been absolutely amazing. It seems like everyone is jumping on board and we’ve even received personal donations as well as sponsorships from multiple local organizations.”
The initiative received donations and support from St. Francis Family Health Care, the Rotary Club of Maryville and the Rotary International Foundation, Friends of the Maryville Public Library, Maryville First United Methodist Church and the American Association of University Women.
The Reach Out and Read program will kick off with a celebratory event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the College Park Pavilion. Free and open to the public, the event will include literacy-themed activity stations for children ages 1-5 years, as well as food.
Reach Out and Read is something that Patet holds close to her heart and she hopes to continue the program’s efforts at Northwest years from now. She hopes it becomes an integral part of the University’s education program and provides education students with the experience they need to become well-rounded professionals.
“As educators and community members, we must be advocates for children and spread the importance of literacy,” Patet said. “The tagline of Reach Out and Read is ‘where great stories begin,’ and I think that is a testimony to what’s happening in Maryville. We’re creating our own story and hopefully a legacy.”
To learn more about the program visit http://www.reachoutandread.org/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468