Hillary Clinton announces early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents

by Administrator 14. October 2014 10:20

This past weekend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) new early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents. The toolkit – Books Build Connections – provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit will be shared with the AAP’s 62,000 pediatrician members at their annual convention this week.

In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a partnership with Too Small to Fail (a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation), Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development. The organizations have committed to supporting early literacy and ensuring that doctors, parents and caregivers have the information, tools and books they need to promote talking, reading out loud and singing to children every day starting in infancy.

Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, as reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper class families hear 30 million more words than their lower income peers.

“Coming to school without words is like coming to school without breakfast or books,” said Clinton.

This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words, which puts children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

"Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country... now, more pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely through our recent policy, toolkit and partnership with Too Small to Fail. Talking, reading and singing with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, foster early language skills and promote children's development,” said James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP.

Pediatricians offer a nearly universal way to reach children before they begin school, and it is exciting to have the AAP’s 62,000 members as powerful advocates for reading and talking to children early and often! 

Click here to watch Clinton's full remarks at the AAP conference, and to read more about the early literacy toolkit, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

Local home visiting programs provide fresh produce

by Administrator 28. August 2014 14:08

Excerpt from guest column in The Herald-Sun on August 23, 2014; written by Jan Williams, Clinical Supervisor, Healthy Families Durham

Cultia Shealey, mother of a 16-month-old toddler, commented that her son has loved getting fruits and vegetables from the home visiting program, Healthy Families Durham.

“He loves them!” she said. “He’s tried strawberries for the first time, and has even tried cucumbers and zucchini.”  For an active toddler who is learning independent eating skills, this program has been a wonderful way to expose him to fruits and vegetables that he might not try otherwise.

Healthy Families Durham and the Durham Early Head Start Home-Based program, both home visiting family support programs of the Center for Child & Family Health, are collaborating with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, the Durham Farmer’s Market and Sarah P. Duke Gardens to provide healthy fruits, vegetables, and staples to Durham families.

Both Healthy Families Durham and Early Head Start Home-Based program provide weekly home visits to parents of children 0-3 years to get the families off to a good start by bringing information about child development, health, safety and nutrition to interested parents.  With the addition of delivering fresh produce, the programs can back up the educational information with a chance for participants to actually experience healthy foods on their dinner table.

About three years ago, the home visiting programs created a cooperative agreement with the Inter-faith Food Shuttle.  Every other Wednesday, home visitors pick up boxes of fresh fruit and staples such as peanut butter and cereal from the IFFS office at Northgate Mall.  In addition, the Wednesday Durham Farmer’s Market vendors offer leftover fruits and vegetables for families involved in Healthy Families and Early Head Start.  Recently, Lindsey Fleetwood, a horticulturist at the Duke Gardens, reached out to the home visiting programs to distribute organic produce grown in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden.  “I feel this collaboration is important because together we are bringing healthy, fresh food to families who truly need it,” Fleetwood said.  ”I feel honored to have the opportunity to give back to our community.”

Home visitors deliver the fresh produce to the homes of the families. Cultia Shealey said that she has received squash, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, strawberries, apples, lettuce, onions and cucumbers. She had never eaten zucchini before, but was willing to try it, and now says, “it’s delicious.”

For these families of young children, many of whom do not have transportation to get to local markets or resources to afford local or organic produce, having fresh, healthy, locally grown food delivered to their home is an added bonus to their involvement in these home visiting programs. “This collaboration is truly one of our most important efforts to promote the health of the children and families,” said Karen Carmody, program director of Healthy Families Durham and Early Head Start Home-Based Program. “Many of our participants struggle with food insecurity or are unable to access fresh foods. Our partners are helping us to meet a growing need for families in Durham.”

Click here to read the full article in The Herald-Sun

Healthy Families Durham, funded by the Partnership through Smart Start, offers voluntary early childhood intervention services through an intensive home visiting program designed to prevent child abuse, improve parent/child interaction, and increase parenting skills. To learn more, please click here.

Durham Early Head Start is a collaboration between the Partnership, Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc., the Center for Child &Family Health, and three local five-star child care partners. Early Head Start is a free, comprehensive child development and family support program for low-income expectant women and families with infants and toddlers ages birth to three. To learn more, please click here.

Durham County wins health prize

by Administrator 1. July 2014 16:41

Congratulations to Durham County for being named one of six winners of the 2014 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation!

The award honors communities that are harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners and stakeholders to help residents live healthier lives, and Durham County received a cash prize of $25,000 for its commitment to building a culture of health. Durham was recognized for its innovative strategies to improve health, including collaboration between organizations to increase access to medical care, coordinated planning to create a healthier environment, and a focus on education and poverty in addition to disease as factors that impact health.

The RWJF award specifically recognizes the work of our partners at the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), whose programs aim to create a pipeline from cradle to college or career for children in East Durham. Through a broad range of neighborhood-based programs, EDCI promotes education, parent support, job training, and high quality child care among underserved populations, which in turn supports improved health outcomes.  

"Our community has worked tirelessly and collaboratively for many years to improve health in Durham County and now, our efforts are being recognized on a national level,” said Gayle B. Harris, Durham County public health director. “As a lifelong resident of Durham, this is truly a monumental achievement and every resident, regardless of whether they live in the city or county, should be proud of. As we continue to work together as ‘One Durham,’ there is no health disparity that we can’t overcome.”

Building a Culture of Health means building a society where getting healthy and staying healthy is a fundamental and guiding social value that helps define American culture. The RWJF Culture of Health Prize honors communities which place a high priority on health and bring partners together to drive local change. 

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a national Culture of Health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These communities are inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together so that every resident has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life."

Congratulations again to Durham County on a wonderful recognition of this great effort to help make our children and families healthier and happier!

Exploring nature and learning through play

by Administrator 27. June 2014 12:19

By: Winnie Morgan, Faith Initiative Coordinator at Durham's Partnership for Children

As an adult, what do you remember about your early play experiences? I immediately think of the creek where we made dams and bridges with a variety of material laid across the water, the woods where we played “house” by creating rooms with stick boundaries, and riding bikes to our neighbor’s house (which was not close in the country!). Recently I had the opportunity to see the outdoor learning space at First Environments Early Learning Environment, a child development center that serves the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Environmental Health and Science, and their contractors.

    

It made me want to be a child again: to play, to explore, to create, to test my physical ability, to find a quiet space for my friend and me. Any observer could see this happening in this outdoor learning space as children made mud pies; sat under the shade of a tree sharing a popsicle with a friend; climbed and balanced on ropes strung from trees; and toddlers sat in sand piles just feeling the sand. It was amazing! And it was so energizing, not only for the children but for adults as well. Brains and muscles were SO engaged in every direction of the space as children learned on their own based on just the environment.

  

     

What has happened over the generations that exploring the outdoors and spontaneous play don’t happen naturally in a child’s life? Research shows that the average American child spends 44 hours per week with electronic media. Another statement I heard recently at the Reading ROCks workshop is that a child has spent enough time watching TV before they start school that they could have completed a college degree. WOW! And we wonder why our children are not as healthy or fit as generations past, or why they cannot entertain themselves without a gadget or a purchased toy? 

Outdoor experiences encourage imagination, creativity and a sense of wonder. How does that butterfly ever come from a caterpillar? What does a butterfly eat? Can I “fly” like a butterfly? One does not need an advanced degree to figure out how to enjoy the outdoors with children. Just do it! You will develop future citizens that want to be stewards of this earth, and you will help improve their physical, social and emotional, and overall wellbeing.

When I visit my 4 year old grandson, our adventures are always outside no matter what the season or weather is - we just adapt with clothing! Our favorite place is a park with a bamboo forest that has rock ledges where we always climb to the top. It is our place: a place where we can be creative as we pretend to be explorers, and a place that always stimulates our sense of wonder. Do you include fun nature experiences in the life of your children and grandchildren or in the life of the children that attend your child care center? If not, why not? 

To help you get started, this Sunday, June 29th is International Mud Day, when children all over the world will join together to enjoy one of the best investigation and invention materials available—mud! There’s no better time than now to go outside and learn!

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children from birth

by Administrator 25. June 2014 13:53

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced yesterday that it will begin issuing the recommendation that parents should read aloud to their children from birth. This is the first time the Academy has officially weighed in on early literacy education. This new policy is part of a collaborative effort of the AAP, Too Small to Fail, Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development.

There are only 2,000 days between a child’s birth and the time that child enters kindergarten, and 90% of brain development happens in those first five years. Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, and reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  

But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies show that by age 3, children from more affluent families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from families receiving public assistance. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

The AAP hopes to close this gap by asking its 62,000 members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud by encouraging parents each time they visit their child's doctor to read early and often.

According to the AAP, the effort takes a multi-pronged approach toward equipping parents with the best tools to ensure that their children are prepared to learn and ready to enter school:

  • Too Small to Fail and the AAP will share messages across their networks and media platforms about the importance of talking, reading out loud and singing to children from birth in order to build vocabulary and promote healthy brain development.
  • To jump start the partnership, Scholastic has donated 500,000 new, age-appropriate children's books for distribution through Reach Out and Read, the non-profit organization that works with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and give books to families at pediatric visits.
  • Reach Out and Read will also distribute a toolkit to be developed by the AAP, with support from Too Small to Fail, which will equip pediatricians with resources to educate parents on how to use everyday activities to improve communication with their infants and toddlers.

To read more about the AAP’s recommendations, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

WOYC: the importance of outdoor learning and play

by Administrator 10. April 2014 13:36

Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children, and some of the most exploratory learning often takes place in nature. During Week of the Young Child, we’d like to celebrate the important positive impact of our outstanding Outdoor Learning Environments here in Durham.

Allowing children to explore the natural world provides a multitude of learning opportunities, and an outdoor play space can ignite a child’s learning and imagination in a way that is much different than inside the classroom. Aside from the well-known benefits of outdoor play – such as obesity prevention, learning from sensory experiences, and encouraging physical activity – there are many other far-reaching developmental benefits. 

Children who are playing together outdoors, making up games, and following rules are learning to work together as a team, building creativity, and establishing sound ethics and positive attitudes. Children who plant flowers and grow vegetables are developing an appreciation for nature as well as an understanding of food systems and healthy choices.

 

 

 

 

 

Research shows that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature. According to the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University, these positive impacts include the following: 

  • Supports multiple development domains 
  • Supports creativity and problem solving
  • Enhances cognitive abilities
  • Improves academic performance 
  • Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms 
  • Increases physical activity
  • Improves nutrition 
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves social relations
  • Improves self-discipline
  • Reduces stress

Bryson’s Christian Montessori School is one example of a beautiful outdoor learning environment. This morning, volunteers from PNC’s Grow Up Great program helped plant flowers and explored the outdoors with children in the Early Head Start and NC Pre-K classes. In addition to enjoying the sunny spring weather, everyone involved left with an appreciation for the power of nature and the importance of learning through play.

WOYC: volunteers making a difference for young children

by Administrator 9. April 2014 15:06

In addition to being Week of the Young Child, this week is also National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Our volunteers are making a difference that lasts a lifetime, and it is with their help that we’re able to reach so many young children and families in Durham. We could not do what we do without our volunteers, so it makes perfect sense for these celebrations to go hand in hand!

Here’s a peek at just some of the ways that volunteers are helping during Week of the Young Child:

  • Volunteers engaged the community at events like the Children’s Festival at Northgate Mall and the Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day at Wheels Fun Park.
  • Volunteers are providing the essential building blocks for early literacy and language development through our Readers as Leaders program. Our readers visit classrooms in child care centers in Durham each week, using the power of their friendship to build a love of reading and enhancing the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading development required for continued school success.

  • Volunteers helped at the NC Pre-K “Blitz” Open Application Day. Along with Partnership staff and other collaborative partners, they processed walk-in applications for the NC Pre-K 2014-15 school year.

  • Volunteers are building Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a key component of our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. The Kits provide school readiness materials designed to prepare children and families for the transition from home to kindergarten, and each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. We will distribute 1,600 Kits to at-risk children this year, all of which will be assembled by volunteers.

  • Volunteers are maintaining the safety and beauty of the outdoor learning environment at Bryson’s Christian Montessori School, a Durham Early Head Start and NC Pre-K site. Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children. Volunteers will also help to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden, which develops children’s understanding of food systems and improves environmental attitudes and food choices. 
  • Volunteers are helping to guide the work of the Partnership by lending their time, expertise, and passion for early childhood by serving on our Board of Directors and Committees.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers for the valuable work they do, as they make a world of difference in the lives of young children across Durham County. If you are interested in volunteering with the Partnership, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960 ext. 230.

Thank you for making a difference for young children!

Durham Head Start children receive free dental care from UNC School of Dentistry

by Administrator 24. February 2014 13:22

By: Lynsay Williams
Guest blogger
UNC Chapel Hill Class of 2016
Journalism and Hispanic Studies Major


February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and in honor of this, organizations across the nation held Give Kids a Smile events to promote good oral hygiene. On Friday, February 7th, the UNC School of Dentistry hosted the first ever Give Kids a Smile event at UNC. The event included free dental cleaning as well as an interactive health fair. 

I don’t know if the name of the event originated from giving kids a healthy smile by giving them free dental cleaning or putting a smile on their face with all the fun activities, but the approximately 119 children from Durham Head Start, ages 3-5, that came to UNC got both!

In addition to free dental exams, they got to be dentists themselves - complete with a medical gowns, masks and dental mirrors - and count the teeth of Mr. Elephant, a very accommodating patient. Have you ever seen a three-foot tall dentist? Needless to say, Mr. Elephant was not afraid, for he was in good hands! Mr. Elephant had some equally toothy, equally fluffy friends that needed help with their brushing. The children stepped up to the plate with the help of some very large brushes and volunteers.

Other professional schools at UNC participated too, including the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health, to incorporate activities on nutrition and wellness. The children also had the opportunity to engage with UNC athletes for some physical activity, an important part of the Head Start program.

Each station was aimed at creating positive associations in the minds of the children participating, so that they can be good dental patients and health patients in the future. After all the fun they were exposed to that day, I can’t imagine they would think of anything else when going to the dentist.

The event was also very inclusive. There were parents, Head Start teachers and the Director of Durham Head Start, Terry David. The children had fun and learned a lot about oral care and hygiene, but David offered something else that they could take away from the event. He said the fair was planting “seeds of achievement” by showcasing several health professions.

Maybe in the future the children will want to move their dentistry work beyond teddy bears. But whether or not there were future dentists, doctors, or nurses among the group, they got some interactive lessons that children and parents can incorporate into their daily routines. 

Everyone from Head Start was very appreciative for the opportunities the children received at the event. But honestly, I don’t know who was happier to be there - the kids or the volunteers!

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For more information about the Partnership’s efforts to address children’s dental health in Durham, please click here to learn about the Great Human Race and help us reach our goal of raising $3,000 for dental health kits.

 For more information about the Give Kids a Smile day at UNC, please click here.

Race with us to support children's dental health!

by Administrator 20. February 2014 13:45

On March 29th, we are participating once again in the Great Human Race to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. The Great Human Race is a 5K and 10K community walk and run sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Durham to support local nonprofits. 

We need your help!

Our goal is to raise $3,000 to provide dental health kits to young children and families in Durham, at a cost of $10 per kit. We know that children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school, have the self confidence that comes with an attractive smile, and have a better chance of good general health. Preventive dental care beginning with infants is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving regular dental cleanings.




 


Each kit will contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, child flossing tools, washcloth, dental health activity booklet and crayons, and
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. The kits will be distributed along with a presentation about dental health for young children and their parents. At a cost of just $10 per kit, you can easily make a direct impact for Durham's children.

Visit our fundraising page to learn more and to donate directly to the Partnership. You can also join our team and register to come walk/run with us on race day! And if you’d like to get your friends, family and co-workers involved, you can create a group and set a fundraising goal of your own to get other people to support the Partnership.

Thanks for helping us spread the message that healthy smiles lead to a happy life!

The impact of your donations

by Administrator 15. August 2013 10:37

"In Durham County, 17% of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay." (NC CATCH)

"33% of children age three to five have cavities in baby teeth. Tooth decay is still the major cause of tooth loss in children." (NHANES, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

"Children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school." (American Journal of Public Health)

 

In April of this year, Durham’s Partnership for Children participated in the 2013 Great Human Race to raise funds to help address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. Preventive dental care beginning with infants is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving dental cleanings at age one.
 
Our campaign brought in just over $1,000 – thanks to some very generous donors in the Durham community.  We purchased supplies and materials (toothbrushes, toothpaste, child flossing tools, an early dental health instruction booklet, coloring pages, crayons, and a Dr. Seuss book on teeth), and even had some items donated from stakeholders in the dental health field:  DenTek Oral Care, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gary Hill, and Southpoint Pediatric Dentistry.

We recruited volunteers to help build dental health kits with those supplies.

As a result, the Partnership was able to distribute more than 100 dental health kits to infants and toddlers in Durham during July and August.  Dental educator Neelam Sullivan (Dr. Gary Hill) joined us on our visits to child care centers to teach the basics of tooth care.  Among other lessons, Neelam talked about how much toothpaste children should use, the best times to brush, and how to hold a toothbrush and use dental floss.  She shared how a healthy diet is good for building strong teeth and told the children about a “magic food” called cheese that fights cavities.  And she brought along her puppet Smiley!

By providing these young children with some of the most basic supplies necessary for proper oral health, the Partnership hopes to combat this crisis starting at an early age.

We documented the impact with this short video so you can see just what a difference even the smallest donation makes.  We hope you will watch, enjoy, and join us in celebration of this community success.  Durham has given us a great reason to smile!

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