Exemplifying the club’s motto of Service Above Self and encouraging literacy in Carroll County’s youth, the Rotary Club of Carrollton Dawnbreakers recently donated more than 500 books and contributed an additional $500 to Tanner Health System’s ReadER program.
In Georgia, 17 percent of adults lack basic literacy skills, meaning that they sometimes struggle to perform even the most basic of concrete and simple tasks – like reading a set of instructions. It is the belief of Tanner Health System that a simple way to help improve local literacy rates is to make books accessible to area children and foster an interest in reading whenever possible.
The Tanner ReadER program provides age-appropriate books to every child who visits one of Tanner Health System’s regional, 24-hour emergency departments. These books give parents an opportunity to share an escape with their child into a story, away from the trauma or illness that made their visit necessary.
Dawnbreakers Rotary, in a joint effort with the Rotaract Club of West Georgia, annually dedicates time, money and resources toward ensuring an adequate book supply for ReadER. Each book donated also includes a copy of the the Rotary Four Way Test – Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
“We believe these four guiding principles foster character and will help build a stronger generation of community partners and servants,” said Michael Stone, club president. “Taking the time to ensure our local children have access to age-appropriate books is a small way to make a big impact on the future of west Georgia.”
Research shows that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23% of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9% of children with basic reading skills and 4% of proficient readers.
The Dawnbreakers initial donation of 1,000 books in 2013 was inspired by a presentation made by Tom Fitzgerald, MD, a board-certified emergency physician and medical operations leader for the emergency department at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton. Fitzgerald was the visionary behind the program, which was made possible by Fitzgerald and his colleagues at Carrollton Emergency Physicians.
Fitzgerald updated the Carrollton Dawnbreakers on the program earlier this year, expressing Tanner Health System’s gratitude for their continued support of ReadER.
“Talking to your children and reading to them is enormously important, especially at an early age. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. The only behavioral measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home,” said Fitzgerald. “By giving children books of their own in the Emergency Department, we hope we will help stimulate an early love of reading that will benefit them for their entire life.”
Tanny the turtle, the Tanner ReadER program’s mascot, also visited Dawnbreakers. Tanny promotes reading to children and parents visiting Tanner’s emergency departments and to others in our community as he travels to area schools, organizations, community events and more.
Conceived by Tanner’s emergency department physicians, the Tanner ReadER program is sponsored by Carrollton Emergency Physicians and Tanner Health System. For more information about ReadER, visit www.tanner.org.