Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds expanded partnership provides thousands of books to low-income families during pediatrician visits


PROVIDENCE, RI – In collaboration with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), Reach Out and Read RI (RORRI) has expanded the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds initiative to reach more children at different ages in selected medical practices across the state. The program builds on RORRI’s school readiness program by adding a healthy eating and active lifestyle component to developmentally-appropriate books provided to local children during well visits.

“As experts on childhood health, our pediatricians regularly talk with families about the importance of healthy eating and active lifestyles, and these related children’s books will serve as guidance for every parent in building healthy habits for their kids,” said Carolyn Belisle, managing director of community relations at BCBSRI. “Pediatricians have shared with us that Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds enables them to clearly address the importance of healthy eating and physical activity to families and their children.”

The program’s first year focused on reaching the two-year-old population, while the expanded partnership will include five year olds. The program will also broaden to reach core cities with underserved children, such as Pawtucket, Providence and Warwick, distributing a total of nearly 3,000 books at more than 30 sites in all. This distribution includes providing a book as part of every two-year-old well-visit at Pawtucket and new Warwick sites, and at every five-year-old well-visit conducted at Community Healthcare Centers statewide.

In the program’s first year, each child reached by this collaboration received a copy of Munch! Crunch! Snacks and Lunch by Anna W. Bardaus. In the expanded partnership, children will receive a copy of Good for You and Me by Mercer Mayer. Both books teach and reinforce healthy habits. Parents will also receive evidence-based advice within the context of the early literacy intervention to create routines that lay a foundation for children’s lifelong healthy habits.

“Our goal is to reinforce a parent's role as the first and most important teacher, and give parents the tools and techniques to help their children succeed. We do this by building on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early literacy skills in children, from 6 months through 5 years of age,” said Susanna Beckwith, executive director of Reach Out and Read RI. “Our mission is to provide young children with a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. This mission is guided by the vision that one day all children will enter kindergarten with highly-engaged parents, performing at grade level, and prepared to excel.”

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