April Medical Minute

Has Spring arrived yet? Maybe. Are we seeing lots of kids for well child visits? Definitely. Are we seeing kids that went missing during the pandemic surges? Yes, we still are seeing kids who missed one or more well child visits, in part due to their fear to come to our clinics! Do great books provided by Reach Out and Read Kansas City continue to bring joy to kids, families and providers? You bet!

This week my most joyful moment was seeing five-year-old Yoan. Some of you might remember that he is the child who received ROR-KC’s One Millionth Book in 2017. Click here to see the video. Now, we are celebrating ROR-KC’s 25th anniversary, and Yoan is so lucky to get yet another brand-new book to share with his older siblings and parents. We were sharing the book The Lion and the Mouse, a story of an unexpected friendship. We had a few minutes practicing “dialogic reading” – where the reader (me) asks the child (Yoan), “Do you think a mouse is usually a friend with a lion?” and “What do they think might happen next?” This brief interaction let me know that Yoan was comfortable with books, had age-appropriate conversation skills, and that his mother was so proud of how he was doing in kindergarten.

Then, I noticed the plastic sleeve containing Yoan’s immunization record. There was the picture of that One Millionth Book moment with baby Yoan that Mom has kept. Clinic staff members later told me she had showed the picture to all of them! A reminder that in the moment, we don’t always know the impact that the gift of a book and our advice can have on a child and family, but clearly for this child and family, the impact was powerful. So, to all of our supporters and donors – thank you for allowing hundreds of providers to bring moments of both joy and learning to thousands of children and their families every day, with the gift of a new, age-appropriate, culturally diverse book, and a prescription to read.

March Medical Minute

A Time For Hope

I am writing this looking out my window at sparkling snow … hoping for Spring. I am writing this with the news of escalating violence in Ukraine, hoping for peace. I am writing this worrying about families that decline a COVID vaccination for their kids, hoping for their health. (And, if any readers have questions or worries about vaccinating themselves or their kids, please email me at spage@kumc.edu). I am writing this with the hope and belief that one kiddo or one family Reach Out and Read Kansas City makes a difference for the future of each child and family we serve. Who knows? One of these little ones may be a future peacemaker in their community, country or even the world!

Recently, I gave the kindergarten book bag to four-year-old Jose. I asked him to point to his favorite color on the color wheel (this helps me assess his pre-kindergarten skills), and then he asked me what my favorite color was. We discussed our favorite animals on the next page – his is a snake! We had a great conversation about the scenes on the following pages – the messy room, the kids playing on the beach. In about three minutes, it was clear to me that his communication and cognitive skills were excellent – his kindergarten teacher is going to really enjoy him!

I also heard from a health provider, Vikki, at a county health department who described the reaction of a two-year-old upon receiving a new princess book, “It was like it was Christmas, she was so excited to have this book!”

Imagine thousands of interactions like this one happening every day in the Kansas City Metro – All between a provider, a book, a child and a family! The gift of a book, the advice on book sharing and the family’s ability to foster their child’s language development helps to support the child’s emerging literacy skills. At the same time, the gift of the book facilitates the developmental assessment by the provider and brings joy to all involved. These moments are made possible by your generosity! Thank you to all of our donors – your gifts are making a difference every day in the lives of children, families and health care providers across the Kansas City Metro.