Words Alive Brings Literacy Programs to San Diego's East County

Words Alive, a leading San Diego non-profit literacy organization that inspires a commitment to reading and develops shared reading experiences for children, youth and adults, has formed a collaboration with the County of San Diego.
Aug. 24, 2009 - PRLog -- Words Alive, a leading San Diego non-profit literacy organization that inspires a commitment to reading and develops shared reading experiences for children, youth and adults, has formed a collaboration with the County of San Diego and its community partners to bring its literacy programs to East County.
   “We are very excited about working with Neighborhoods for Kids, an initiative of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), which has received recognition for its innovative approach to child welfare services,” said Jennifer Williamson, executive director, Words Alive. “We are equally excited about partnering with the El Cajon Branch Library because of its outstanding resources and commitment to serving its community. Our partnership will allow Words Alive to reach out to a new demographic and expose children and their parents or caregivers to books and reading for pleasure.”
   The partnership brings a four pronged approach to providing literacy services in East County with a focus on that region’s foster children, their parents and caregivers:
•   Words Alive will provide its Read to Me workshops to parents participating in the Vista Hill Incredible Families program, which is funded by the County of San Diego Mental Health. The Read to Me workshops are designed to educate parents about the importance of reading aloud to children age 0-5 and how to do so effectively. The 45-minute workshop will also include information about the El Cajon Branch Library and how to apply for a library card.
•   To encourage parents and caregivers to read daily to their children, Words Alive will pilot the Raising A Reader program, a book lending program that engages parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” and reading aloud with their children from birth to age five. Raising A Reader will be introduced during the second Incredible Families program cycle in September.
•   To encourage regular library visits, Words Alive will offer the Words Alive Storytime at the El Cajon Branch Library on Saturday morning at 10 am starting in September for children age 0-5, although all ages will be welcome. Neighborhoods for Kids will promote the storytime and location to parents seeking reunification with their children as a positive place to meet.
•   Finally, Words Alive will provide gently used books for children and teens age 0-18 to Neighborhoods for Kids case managers to distribute during home visits and new books to participants of the first three programs as incentives for participation. A minimum of 2,400 books will be distributed as part of this partnership.
The partnership officially launches on August 25, when Words Alive provides the first of six, 45-minute Read to Me workshops during the Vista Hill Incredible Families program. This 12-week program, funded by the County of San Diego, HHSA, Mental Health Services in collaboration with Neighborhoods for Kids, offers an evidence-based parenting course to families, taught by a licensed therapist. Incredible Families will take place a total of six times over the course of the coming year and Vista Hill anticipates at least 250 East County parents, caregivers and children will participate.
   “I am delighted Words Alive is part of a local broader collaboration” said Pam Smith, Deputy Director for HHSA’s East Region. Through the efforts of several critical East County partners, we will provide an array of services designed to support attainment of effective parenting skills, and create opportunities in several settings for kids to share reading experiences with their parents and other adults. By doing so, we hope to improve outcomes for kids and foster safe and livable communities.”
   The year-long literacy partnership has been made possible with a $40,000 grant from The William Gumpert Foundation, a long-time Words Alive supporter. The foundation is the legacy of Bill Gumpert, who passed away in 2007 and who remained anonymous about his philanthropy during his lifetime.
About Neighborhoods for Kids
Neighborhoods for Kids is a County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, East Region initiative, that aims to safely keep kids in familiar environments when they have been abused or neglected. East Region partnered with schools and other community groups to align child welfare service delivery within existing school boundaries. By doing so, child welfare staff work in five distinct geographical regions and foster effective working relationships with school personnel, law enforcement, faith organizations, foster parents, and service organizations. These community-based relationships allow children to safely remain in familiar environments, either with relatives or kin, or within their same school boundaries.
About the El Cajon Branch Library
The El Cajon Branch Library is a unit of the San Diego County Library system that actively engages in programming, services and partnerships to support an informed and literate community. Located in the City of El Cajon’s downtown district, the El Cajon Branch Library offers Internet and WIFI access, librarian-assisted research services and collections of books, magazines, DVDs, and music for all ages. Partnering with El Cajon area schools, social services and community organizations, the library provides a variety of educational and cultural programs that reflect the interests of our diverse community. All of services and programs are free and open to the public.
About Vista Hill
In 1957, Vista Hill™ was formed as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization devoted to the provision of much needed private psychiatric services in San Diego. As a dynamic community-based organization, it develops and maintains a diverse array of quality services and programs throughout San Diego County from brief early intervention and preventive work with troubled young people, to treatment with school age kids, to long-term special education and training for individuals with developmental disabilities.
About Words Alive
Founded in 1999, Words Alive is a non-profit organization that helps underserved, low-income, at-risk children, teens and adults discover how books can add meaning to their lives. Instead of teaching the skill of reading, Words Alive engages its program participants in the joy of reading with innovative programs and initiatives with the goal of creating lifelong readers and learners. For more information about Words Alive, its programs, volunteer opportunities, annual Authors Luncheon and giving opportunities, please contact Jennifer Williamson, executive director, at (858) 274-9673, jennifer@wordsalive.org or access our website at www.wordsalive.org.

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Words Alive is a non-profit organization that helps children, teens and adults discover the joy of reading and how books can add meaning to their lives.
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