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United Way Partners with ‘Reach Out and Read’ to Encourage Early Literacy on the Cape and Islands

Dr. Sharon Daley with Addy, age 6, and Addy’s mom Karla.

(Centerville, MA) The Cape and Islands United Way is pleased to announce a partnership with Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. Reach Out and Read currently serves nearly 5,000 children across the Cape and Islands through 15 local pediatric practices. The program will continue in the coming year thanks to a $40,000 investment by the Cape and Islands United Way and their new affinity group, Women United. The program is the first step in a larger early childhood initiative that United Way will launch this fall with numerous community partners.

The best opportunity to influence a child’s future is in the first five years due to a critical window of rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Research has shown that children from low income families who are not exposed to reading will have heard 30 million fewer words by age three than their peers. Reach Out and Read works to level that playing field. They are the only national early literacy program that works through pediatric care to provide effective intervention. Pediatricians “prescribe” books, encourage parents to read to their child, and share information about the role that reading and speech play in brain development. Reach Out and Read pediatric partners provide developmentally and culturally-appropriate books to children at pediatric well-child visits through age five. Parents who receive the prescribed book are 2 ½ times more likely to read to their children and their child’s language development is shown to improve by 3 to 6 months during the preschool years.

“Given that we were getting ready to launch a community-wide effort to eliminate the Achievement Gap on the Cape and Islands, we saw the opportunity to partner with Reach Out and Read as a perfect fit and a wonderful rallying cry for Women United,” said Barbara Milligan, Cape and Islands United Way President & CEO. “We also recognized the potential to leverage the existing Reach Out and Read platform and network of pediatricians to connect parents with critical local resources and learning opportunities. We think this is a win-win for both of our organizations, and for our community.”

“Through this new partnership, the Cape and Island United Way is providing critical program support to our 15 Cape and Island program sites, allowing pediatric medical providers to enter their exam rooms with more than their stethoscopes–they also carry colorful, new children’s books for patients to take home,” said Christine Garber, Reach Out and Read’s Regional Executive Director for Connecticut and Massachusetts.  “With the loss of our $1 million state funding due to the 9C reductions in December, we are looking for private funds to enable us to continue our critical work throughout the state.  We are thrilled and thankful to have this new partnership with the Cape and Island United Way.  We are very excited to be working with the Cape and Island United Way in order to help close the Achievement Gap in this part of the state.  It is wonderful to have such like-minded partners who care so much about the children and families on the Cape and Islands. ”

Participating pediatricians on the Cape and Islands include: Bramblebush Pediatrics located in Falmouth, Briarpatch Pediatrics located in Yarmouth Port, Sandwich, and Nantucket, Cape Cod Pediatrics in Forestdale, Community Health Center of Cape Cod in Mashpee and Falmouth, Outer Cape Health Services in Wellfleet, Provincetown, and Harwich, Plymouth Medical Group in Sandwich, PMG Family Practice of Bourne, Seaside Pediatrics in West Yarmouth, Vineyard Pediatrics in Oak Bluffs, and Wampanoag Health Service in Aquinnah, MV.

More information about Reach Out and Read can be found at www.reachoutandread.org. Anyone interested in becoming involved with Women United and the United Way’s new early childhood initiative may visit www.uwcapecod.org/womenunited for more information.

About The Cape & Island United Way

Cape and Islands United Way is a local and independent organization striving to improve lives and strengthen communities on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. The United Way family — of donors, volunteers, and citizens who care – raise money, leverage resources, and donate time and talents to not only provide a safety net for those in need, but to create a collective community vision and drive sustainable change. We encourage and facilitate volunteerism through Cape Cod Volunteers and support MASS-2-1-1, a free and confidential 24/7 information and support line that connects those seeking financial, domestic, and health assistance to the services they need. Out of every dollar raised by the Cape and Islands United Way, 99 cents stays on Cape Cod and the islands, while less than 1% goes to the United Way world organization to cover the cost of its membership fee.  Donations may be made online at uwcapecod.org or by calling 508-775-4746.

About Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. With unparalleled access to families with young children, Reach Out and Read medical providers give books to children at more than 10 checkups from infancy until they start school. More importantly, they encourage families to read aloud and engage with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day. The effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read model is recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics in a policy statement that recommends early literacy promotion as an essential component of pediatric care. The program is both cost-effective, and evidence-based: research shows that the program results in more frequent reading at home, accelerated vocabulary and critical brain stimulation. The organization currently serves 4.6 million children, over half of whom are from low-income families. For more information, visit reachoutandread.org.