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Brainerd Lakes Area Collaboration recognized by Reach Out and Read

**information courtesy of Essential Health press release

Brainerd Lakes Area Collaboration recognized by Reach Out and Read at state-wide event

At the Reach Out and Read Minnesota annual breakfast on Monday, May 11 at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul participants in the Brainerd Lakes Collaboration were guest speakers to provide an overview of how the greatest community impact on children age 6 months to 5 years is being sought through this early literacy program. Speakers at the event included: (LtoR) Jennifer Smith, United Way of Crow Wing & Southern Cass Counties Executive Director; Miranda Anderson, Essentia Health Marketing and Community Relations Manager; Lynne Burke, Reach Out and Read Minnesota State Program Director; and ; Tahnee Flowers, ISD181 Brainerd Learning Center Early Childhood Coordinator.

Reach Out and Read Program

A Brainerd Lakes Area Collaboration formed in 2013 to ensure that Reach Out and Read has the greatest community impact and avoids duplicating other programs in our community was recognized for its unique approach and success. At the Reach Out and Read Minnesota annual breakfast on Monday, May 11 at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul participants in the Brainerd Lakes Collaboration were guest speakers to provide an overview of how the greatest community impact on children is being sought through this early literacy program.

Reach Out and Read is a national early literacy organization that reinforces the parent’s role as the first and most important teacher, and gives parents the tools and techniques to help their children succeed. The proven Reach Out and Read program introduces and reinforces the value of reading to both parents and children by a trusted authority, their primary care physician, who gifts a child age 6 months through 5 years with a book at each well-child visit.

Reach out and read

Nearly 3,000 children have been gifted a new book and a family has been encouraged to read with their child during their wellness visits at Essentia Health Clinics in Brainerd Lakes Area in the past year.

Reach Out and Read Brainerd Lakes Area Collaboration Participants:

Shannon Wheeler, Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition (BLAECC) Coordinator
Darcy Dwyer, Brainerd Public Library Children/Youth Librarian

Miranda Anderson, Essentia Health Marketing/Community Relations Manager
Karen Opp, RN, CNP, Essentia Health Pediatrics

Wendy Froslie, RN,  Essentia Health Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Women’s Specialty Clinics Operations Manager
David Jeremiason, Essentia Health – St. Joseph’s Foundation Director

Tammy Filippi, Initiative Foundation Early Childhood Associate

Tahnee Flowers, ISD181 Brainerd Learning Center Early Childhood Coordinator
Lynne Burke, Reach Out and Read Minnesota State Program Director

Jennifer Smith, United Way of Crow Wing & Southern Cass Counties Executive Director

When this unique collaboration of partners came together, priorities focused on: sustainability, measurability and connectivity.

A natural partner for bringing Reach Out and Read to the community was the United Way of Crow Wing & Southern Cass Counties. Jennifer Smith, Executive Director of United Way, brings the knowledge and expertise on the functionality and strengths of the Imagination Library program, which is similar in nature to Reach Out and Read. She also helps ensure that the two programs avoid duplication and rather complement each other to meet the needs of those in our community.

The content of the books selected to be given to each child was determined by partnering with the Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition (BLAECC). In 2013, the Coalition’s research revealed similarities in what students coming into kindergarten lacked and what area businesses were lacking in the workforce. The overlap identified was social emotional skills or soft skills.

“I was excited to apply what we learned from recent community research in identifying books that teach about social and emotional skills. The variety of topics these books cover include: Being a Friend, Feelings, Accepting Others, Problem Solving, Self Confidence, Good Behavior and Relationships,” said Shannon Wheeler, Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition (BLAECC) Coordinator.

Understanding the impact of Reach Out and Read’s mission locally was critical to the group as well as funders which include: Initiative Foundation, St. Joseph’s Foundation, United Way, and Reach Out and Read Minnesota. ISD181 early childhood screening measures literacy and social emotional skills of each child. The annual summary report of these measures will serve as the baseline and be tracked over the next three years to understand the impact in both literacy and social development the Reach Out and Read program is having in the Lakes Area.

Reach Out and Read was founded in 1989 at Boston Medical Center by a group of pediatricians and educators who recognized the profound significance of infancy and toddlerhood in setting the stage for achievement, given that 90% of brain development occurs between birth and age 5. In Minnesota, 173 affiliated clinics implement the Reach Out and Read model, with more than 98,500 children participating statewide in 2014.

Essentia Health’s 20 clinic locations that participate in Reach Out and Read include: Babbitt, Baxter, Brainerd, Crosslake, Detroit Lakes, Duluth Children’s Clinic, Ely, Frazee, Hackensack, Lake Park, Mahnomen, Menagha, Park Rapids, Pelican Rapids, Pequot  Lakes, Pierz, Pillager, Pine River, Virginia, and Walker.

To learn more about Reach Out and Read, visit their website.

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