Community program provides the littlest patients their first books at clinic visits

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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Children coming to the clinic for a well-child visit have good reason to look forward to seeing their doctor or nurse. Thanks to donations from community organizations, kids get to go home with brand-new books received at their appointment.

Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit organization, helps promote early literacy and school readiness among young children by providing books at well-child visits that children take home. The program is integrated into pediatric care at Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Faribault and Austin. This initiative helps ease kids’ anxiety during medical appointments and fosters a love for reading and language development in children who may not have easy access to books.

Reach Out and Read is an inspiring example of how healthcare providers, community organizations and families come together to promote early literacy.

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Key highlights about the Reach Out and Read program and its impact include:

• Healthy Habits: The program encourages parents to read with their children, leading to positive outcomes such as reading often, improved language development and stronger family bonds through shared reading experiences.

• Language Diversity: Books are available in languages that represent the patients.

• Community Support: The Reach Out and Read program is made possible through donations from community organizations.

• Provider-Child Relationship: The program establishes a positive relationship between healthcare professionals and young patients, contributing to a comfortable medical experience.

Austin Rotary, Foundation donate book funds to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin

The Austin Rotary Club and the Mayo Clinic Health System Austin Foundation provide annual funding for the Reach Out and Read program in Austin. The clinic hands out more than 3,000 books annually to kids aged six months to five years.

The Rotary helped provide additional funding for books in diverse languages. Through the medical record, they can determine the most frequent languages and have books available in those languages.

“It’s a day-maker to see these kids and their parents light up when handed a book,” said Catherine Kuchera, nurse manager in primary care. “We are thankful to our donors and hope they realize the investment their donation has in the lives of children.”

For more information on the Reach Out and Read program, contact Maegen Storm in Faribault or Catherine Kuchera in Austin.