Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator,
Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc.
Email: [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Image/Caption: Members of both the Sertoma and Kiwanis Club of St. Augustine are pictured with the children of Brandts Child Care Center holding up their first book from the Ferst Foundation on June 13, 2019.
Free Books for Children at St. Augustine Day Care
St. AUGUSTINE, Fla., June 20, 2019 – All preschoolers at a St. Augustine Day care are now receiving a book a month plus literacy resources for an entire year because of a team of local literacy supporters.
In an effort to support the youngest of readers, the St. Augustine Sertoma Club and the Kiwanis Club of St. Augustine teamed up with Ferst Readers are sponsoring Brandts Day Care for one year. On June 13, 2019 The first book, Read to Me, was delivered by members of each club, a Ferst Readers representative and a very special guest, the popular literacy character Pete the Cat!
“Amazing things happen when groups come together to help our most valuable and vulnerable resource – our children,” said Literacy Coordinator for the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Joan Whitson.
Joan Whitson, Kiwanis member, has been working with Ferst Readers through the Early Learning Coalition in several other North Florida counties and loved the program so much she wanted children in St. Augustine to have the same opportunity. She invited Michelle Maddox, Regional Program Coordinator for Ferst Readers, to come and speak to the Kiwanis Club about the Ferst Readers Program. Then Joan presented the program to the Sertoma Club. Both groups were so excited about the program, they raised the funding to sponsor the entire center in a few short months!
Ferst Readers is a 501C(3) which has been providing age-appropriate books and literacy resources monthly to children for almost 20 years at no cost to the families in participating communities. For now, in St. Johns County, the Ferst Readers program is a Partnership Action Team (PAT), which means only children enrolled in the Brandts Day Care Center will receive Ferst Readers books each month. The Ferst Foundation would like to expand to reach more children in St. Johns.
Any group of children can be sponsored by an organization or business. Accompanying each book will be the parent engagement newsletter, Leap Into Books, which provides relevant questions, important vocabulary and activities related to the book to help parents read with their child. It also is a community connection piece which will provide donor/sponsor spotlights and local events to inform the parents of special activities they can attend with their families. Each classroom at the Brandts Center will also receive a book and newsletter to build their classroom libraries and create excitement before the children take their books home.
For more information about being a volunteer with these programs, contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at 904-342-2267 ext. 202 or at [email protected].
For more information about the Ferst Readers program visit their website: www.ferstreaders.org. To get involved with the St. Augustine Sertoma Club visit: www.saintaugustinesertoma.org or the Kiwanis Club of St. Augustine visit: www.kiwanisofstaugustine.com.
Additionally, the ELC of North Florida provides child care assistance to families who meet certain income requirements and who are working or going back to school. This school readiness program is designed to increase a child’s chance of achieving future educational success. The ELC also administers and manages Florida’s FREE VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds).
For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its other programs and services, please visit, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.