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Helping Children Reach Their Full Potential


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Reach Out and Read of Greater New York returned to Downstate in August -- this time to the Infant and Child Learning Center on Parkside Avenue.

Local artist Javaka Steptoe and New York Assemblymember Karim Camera joined members of Reach Out and Read in the fun.

Javaka, who lives right up the street from Downstate, read from and had the ICLC kids play act scenes from "Daddy's Arms," one of many children's books that Javaka has illustrated. His interactive reading elicited lots giggles and screams of laughter. And he brought every child a copy of his book.

Equally entertaining was Assemblymember Camera. Besides animatedly reading several stories (No David! No!), he showed off his impressive juggling skills. Mr. Camera was instrumental in arranging funding for the ICLC's roof top playground.

All in all, a great time was had by everyone -- and many thanks to Kathy McCormick, co-executive director of the Infant and Child Learning Center, for facilitating the event. "We really appreciate the efforts of Reach Out and Read in supporting our literacy goals, " she said.

The ICLC, which helps children with special needs overcome obstacles, offers programs for children from birth to five years old, both on site and in homes and daycare settings. It works in partnership with parents to achieve the best possible outcome for their child's continuing development.

Downstate teams up with Reach Out and Read and HealthFirst on literacy project for young children.

Recently, Downstate's pediatrics patients received a special treat: Free books and backpacks filled with pencils, rulers, crayons, and coloring books – courtesy of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York and HealthFirst, which has been sponsoring the program for the last year.

Downstate is one of the largest recipients of books from Reach Out and Read, giving out 4,000 this year alone to children from 6 months to 5 years of age during check-ups. Books read at this most recent event – to loud cheers from the young audience – included perennial favorites, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" and "No David."

The event was timely: On June 23, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement urging pediatricians to promote early literacy development for children beginning in infancy and continuing at least until kindergarten. "Reading to children – no matter what their age, can have a profound effect," said Dr. Ella Jean Richards-Francois, associate director of ambulatory care and pediatrics. "It stimulates development, strengthens the parent-child relationship, and builds skills that last a lifetime."

Reach Out and Read and HealthFirst will be back at Downstate in August, reading to children in the Infant and Child Learning Center.