A handful of young University of Minnesota Health patients participated in a very special story time with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges at Smiley’s Family Medicine Clinic on Thursday afternoon.
The mayor visited with local nonprofit Reach Out and Read Minnesota to promote early childhood literacy. The nonprofit partnered with Hodges to help Minneapolis become a Reach Out and Reach “Bookend City” in 2017. To achieve that designation, 100 percent of the city’s health clinics serving young children are asked to promote childhood literacy in exam rooms.
Smiley’s is one of several University of Minnesota Health or University of Minnesota Physicians locations to have incorporated the Reach Out and Read principles into their care. Other sites in our system that have or are in the process of implementing the program include University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic, Phalen Village Family Medicine Clinic and Bethesda Family Medicine Clinic—plus the University of Minnesota Health Mill City Clinic and Nurse Practitioners Clinic.
As part of the program, participating medical providers offer Reach Out and Read intervention—which includes a developmentally appropriate book—to all children at each well-child visit from six months through five years of age. Our care providers also discuss with parents the importance of talking, singing, reading and playing with their babies as early as the newborn visit.
Smiley's first adopted the Reach and Read model six years ago, making it one of the first Reach Out and Read locations in Minneapolis. The clinic is one of only three Reach and Read locations in the state to have attained "exemplary" status. To achieve that designation, the clinic developed a "literacy-rich" waiting room and implemented additional literacy training for staff members and clinical residents, among other initiatives.
“Research shows that 80 percent of brain development happens before a child reaches three years old,” Mayor Hodges said. “Talking, reading and singing to young children is so critical for brain development, creating a foundation for learning and success.
Hodges also met with Family Medicine Physician Patricia Adam, MD, MSPH, to see how Adam put Reach Out and Read's practices to use in an exam room setting.
Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. The nonprofit organization partners with 231 clinics in 50 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and serves 138,000 young children statewide through the commitment of more than 1,5000 health care providers who participate in the program. Since 1997, Reach Out and Read Minnesota has distributed more than 1.3 million books statewide.