Reach Out and Read Wisconsin would like to acknowledge and thank all medical staff and public health officials for their tireless work over the past weeks related to COVID-19. We realize this is an unprecedented public health event and we acknowledge and applaud everything clinical staff, medical providers, managers, public health officials, nurses and administrators are doing to support our communities and keep families safe.
During these trying times, we want to share some lighthearted, positive content about different literacy-rich environments we’ve seen during our visits to clinics and other environments across the state. We hope to showcase how everyday places can be literacy-friendly and how these spaces can encourage talking, reading, singing and playing for parents and children of all ages. If your clinic would like to be featured, please email Alex Rogers and send photos.
Our first literacy-rich spotlight goes to the Clark County Public Health Department. Earlier this year, the Public Health Department revamped their Women Infants and Children (WIC)/Immunization waiting room. The updated waiting room includes many elements that are literacy-friendly, including the rug with both letters and numbers, interactive toys that do not rely on screens, and the plethora of books available on the book shelf. All these items can encourage families and kids to play together, read together, or talk with each other while they wait.
Partners from across the community came together to make this possible. A local high school shop class built the book shelf, toy box, children’s table and bench set while other community volunteers painted the wall mural. This transformation showcases the power of collaboration.
Community collaboration is something Reach Out and Read Wisconsin strongly encourages and spends time talking about with clinics at our annual check-ins. Even though the Clark County Public Health Department is not participating in Reach Out and Read, we fully support their efforts to increase early-literacy awareness and encouragement within different spaces in the community. Clark County Public Health Director, Brittany Mews, RN, BSN, was instrumental in helping Marshfield Medical Center Neillsville Clinic start their Reach Out and Read program in 2014 and has continued to provide ongoing support for the clinic since. Clinics often create literacy-rich environments to amplify and expand on the anticipatory guidance their providers are giving at well-child visits. To us, it is wonderful to see other community organizations supporting this messaging and taking steps to create environments that foster and encourage literacy development, parent-child relationships and little moments of talking, reading, singing and playing.
For more information on how to create a literacy-rich environment within your clinic please refer to this Reach Out and Read handout or view our slideshow of literacy-rich examples from clinics in Wisconsin.