Smart Start Rowan and United Way partner in early literacy efforts

Published 12:17 am Monday, July 25, 2016

By Amy Brown

Special to the Salisbury Post

Smart Start Rowan recently celebrated 20 years of building brighter futures for Rowan County’s young children. The agency has a long-standing history of commitment and service to children from birth to age 5 and their families, as it works to ensure that every child in our community receives the education, nurturing and support needed to provide the foundation for them to grow into healthy productive citizens. One of the key components of Smart Start Rowan’s work is to promote early literacy programs that will develop a love of reading in young children and educate parents on the importance of reading to their children.

Since Smart Start Rowan and the Rowan County United Way began their early literacy partnership in March 2015, almost nine out of every 10 children birth-age 5 are now served by the Reach Out and Read early literacy program. Reach Out & Read is a nationally known evidence-based model that provides exceptional early literacy outcomes for children and their families. In local medical practices and the Rowan County Health Department, children are given a developmentally appropriate book and a “prescription to read” by the medical professional during each well-child visit. This “prescription to read” integrates children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their children. For more information about Reach Out & Read, visit

The following success story by Dr. Jennifer Hudson of Salisbury Pediatrics is a wonderful illustration of the impact that Reach Out & Read has on our local medical practices, as well as the children and families that they serve:

“As a pediatrician, there is nothing more rewarding than handing out a free book for a family to take home. For many of the families we take care of, having books to read at home is a rarity and a luxury.  The joy on the child’s and parents’ faces when they receive their book is immeasurable.
Reading aloud to children should begin at birth. This not only stimulates brain development and helps with speech acquisition, it fosters a love of reading that will last a lifetime. The Reach out and Read program is a gem for our community. Encouraging parents to read aloud daily with their children will help improve literacy for our next generation of children. At Salisbury Pediatrics, we are honored to be able to partner with Reach out and Read for this amazing program and help change the lives of thousands of
children in our community.”

The Partnership between Smart Start Rowan and the Rowan County United Way is critical to ensuring that the early literacy focus in this community continues, as we know that the First 2,000 Days, which are the number of days between the time a baby is born and when he or she will enter kindergarten, are so important. This is the time that a child’s brain architecture is forming, and that architecture will create the foundation for kindergarten readiness and all future learning. You can learn more about the First 2000 Days at

With the next United Way Campaign right around the corner, you can feel confident in your decision to partner with the Rowan County United Way and Smart Start Rowan, as your contribution most definitely will make a meaningful and lasting impact right here in our local community.

 Amy Brown is executive director, Smart Start Rowan. To learn more about the Rowan County United Way, visit

To learn more about Smart Start Rowan, visit