ELIZABETHTOWN - Representative Bill Owens visited the Elizabethtown Community Hospital Aug. 26 to practice what doctors preach by reading to a group of young patients.
Ten children gathered around to enjoy Congressman Owens' rendition of How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms?
Dr. Michael Celotti, pediatrician at the Elizabethtown Community Health Center participates in the in Reach Out and Read program, along with Physician Assistant Mary Buehler-Brandt.
Reach Out and Read helps prepare children for success in school by partnering with health care providers to prescribe books and encourage families to read with their children.
Dr. Celotti has incorporated Reach Out and Read's evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups for children in the community. During these checkups, he advises parents about the importance of reading aloud and presents developmentally appropriate books to the children.
Essentially, he sends families home with an important prescription - read aloud to the children. He is a firm believer in the benefits of reading and is proud to be part of this program. "Caring for children goes much further than providing quality healthcare," Celotti said. "A child's well being is dependent on having positive family relationships, in addition to being able to do well in school. This program helps to fulfill these important aspects of child development."
Through Reach Out and Read, each child starts kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 books and a parent who has heard at every health supervision visit about the importance of reading. The program begins at the six-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children in lower-income communities.
The program has gained broad bipartisan support in the United States Congress.
Elizabethtown Community Health Center is one of four programs in Congressman Owens' district that participate in Reach Out and Read. Dr Celotti provides books to more than 200 children and their families each year.
"Research shows that if you intervene in the first five years of life and partner with parents, you can dramatically improve the early literacy skills of a child, putting them on the track for success in school and in life," said Reach Out and Read Chief Executive Officer Earl Martin Phalen. "Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read aloud to them every day. "
The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention. Reach Out and Read distributes 6.4 million books to more than 3.9 million children and their families annually in all 50 states. More than 28,000 medical providers nationwide currently participate in Reach Out and Read.