When second-graders in public school districts served by BJC HealthCare pack up their desks at the end of the school year, they will have a brand new book to take home to encourage their summer reading.
In its fourth year, the BJC Book Brigade provides more than 26,000 books to rising third-graders in over 300 public and charter schools in 63 districts throughout the communities served by BJC hospitals including St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Columbia, Sullivan and Farmington in Missouri; and Alton, Belleville and Shiloh, Illinois. The program is a BJC community outreach effort in recognition of the correlation between education and higher income, better health and longer life expectancy.
As part of the program, Heather Taliaferro, MSN, RN, CNL-BC, vice president, patient care services and chief nursing officer at Parkland Health Center visited Washington-Franklin Elementary School on May 8 to read to area second graders and help give out books. The opportunity to spend time with the young students was a bright spot in her day.
“While it may seem like a modest effort to us, many of the children who received a book last year wrote touching notes to express thanks for a brand new book of their own,” said Taliaferro. “In the journey toward higher education and better health, the BJC Book Brigade is one small step that will take a very long time. But, we believe it’s well worth the long-term effort toward improved reading, high school graduation rates and, ultimately, better health for the future.”
Book titles are selected by curriculum specialists based on age-appropriate content and storyline messages. Employees have the opportunity to donate books online through Scholastic Books, and BJC supplies the remainder. Books are packaged and delivered in partnership with Valley Industries sheltered workshop in St. Louis.