Western Health Center celebrates 10 years as a program site

Dr. Maria Meyers recently read to the students at Primrose School at Meadowbrook during Read Across America Day. The school donated over 500 books to the Western Health Center's Reach Out and Read-Alabama program.

Dr. Maria Meyers recently read to the students at Primrose School at Meadowbrook during Read Across America Day. The school donated over 500 books to the Western Health Center's Reach Out and Read-Alabama program.

The Jefferson County Department of Health Western Health Center, one of four outpatient health centers in Jefferson County, has been prescribing books to underinsured and uninsured children and their families through their Reach Out and Read program for the last 10 years.

Maria Meyers, MD, serves as the medical director and quickly points out in her video that the success of the program lies in being able to provide books to the parents and help them make the connection to reading daily and brain development. During the past ten years, almost 25,000 books have been provided to children from six months through five years of age at well child visits at this clinic.

It is widely accepted that reading aloud to young children is the single most effective activity that will prepare them for success at school. At a time when the achievement gap is wider than ever, and when more than one third of American children start school without the skills necessary for learning, it is disheartening that less than half of the families with children from birth to five in Alabama read together daily. This is often because parents do not understand its importance or because they do not have the confidence to read aloud.

What distinguishes Reach Out and Read from other interventions is its large and growing evidence base. Since 1991, the Reach Out and Read model has been studied by academic investigators in a variety of settings, providing an extensive body of peer-reviewed research on the effects of the program. The body of published research supporting the efficacy of the Reach Out and Read model is more extensive than for any other psychosocial intervention in general pediatrics. Read the complete Reach Out and Read Research Summary here.

Maria Meyers, MD, medical director of Western Health Center points out in her video that the success of the program lies in being able to provide books to the parents, helping them to make that connection to reading daily and brain development.