Written by Eric A. Thomas
Information included in the packet given with each newborn at Passavant Area Hospital is seen here. The packet is part of the Raise a Reader project implemented by the women educators of the Alpha Phi Chapter of DKG.
The Alpha Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG) Society, an international society for women educators, has been working tirelessly on their “Raise a Reader” project. This project is in its 30th year.
The benefits of reading are numerous. Starting to read at a young age improves comprehension skills, helps to improve vocabulary, develops critical thinking skills, improves memory and analytical skills development, helps to build confidence and improves socialization skills — just to name a few benefits.
The DKG committee that implements this project works with health departments in Cass, Morgan and Scott counties to provide a book for each child who is a client. “These active and retired teachers know the value of reading and want to provide books and literacy information to as many families as possible,” stated Martha Vaché, member of the society and publicity chair of the program.
Books chosen for this project are age appropriate and quite colorful. Parents are also given suggestions about how to integrate various language and math concepts into daily life. Both the books and the literacy suggestions are available in English, Spanish and French.
In addition to the health departments, they team up with Passavant Area Hospital to provide a packet for each newborn that includes a book along with a calendar filled with information about child development.
Passavant has been a generous supporter of this program through the years by printing this developmental calendar free of charge. “Research is showing that reading and sharing books and music even in utero as well as after birth is important since babies can hear as early as the fifth month,” added Vaché.
Information is also available at local OB-GYN offices, prenatal clinics and obstetrics departments about the importance of reading.
Finally, the group gets the word out about the importance of reading through the “Diaper Bags to Backpacks” community bi-annual fair in Jacksonville. They provide each child with a new book in their preferred language. “I remember a father from Africa who was thrilled that his child would receive a book in their native French language,” concluded Mrs. Vaché.
The children touched through these literacy programs throughout the three counties was over 5,000 in 2019. The support for this award-winning project has been incredible over the years. The Raise a Reader project is funded through stipends from the Lambda State Foundation for Educational Studies, along with donations and gifts from businesses and individuals in Cass, Morgan and Scott counties.
You can help support this worthwhile program by sending your tax-deductible contributions to Alpha Phi Literacy Project, 202 Westwinds Dr., Jacksonville, IL 62650. All donors are recognized in the child development calendars and at the previously-listed health departments.
The members of Alpha Phi Chapter would like to thank the following for their recent support of this life-changing program: Bank of Bluffs, Mark Bicknell, Kevin and Allison Burrus, Cass County Retired Teachers, Centenary United Methodist Church Fox Trust, Chandlerville American Legion, Delta Kappa Gamma International Educational Foundation, First Presbyterian Church Missions Committee, Grace United Methodist Fox Trust, Hart Foundation, Illini Odd Fellows #4, Jacksonville AARP, Meredosia Community Bank, Morgan Scott Counties Retired Teachers, Panther Creek New Beginnings, Passavant Area Hospital, Penelope Mitchell, Evelyn Marie Thomas, Trinity Episcopal Church Fellowship, Wesley Chapel UMC Sunday School Classes, Dr. Margaret Wilson, individual Alpha Phi Chapter members and anonymous donors.