Children and parents often spend a large amount of time in waiting rooms providing an ideal opportunity to reinforce the importance of early literacy. We identified the Reach Out and Read (ROR) program, an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud, as a model for our project. 95 North partnered with pediatrician, Dr. Dante Lewis, to create a “literacy rich waiting room” for his practice. Dr. Lewis was chosen because he is trained in the ROR model and his practice is in Dillon County, part of the “corridor of shame.” The team presented Dr. Lewis with more than 200 books and several framed posters for his office. Our project, while helping the mission of ROR is different as ROR only provides new books to the patients when they are seeing the physician. Our gently used books will be available in the lobby for the patient, siblings and parents/guardians to read to the children, while they are waiting. Both the patient and their siblings will be able to take our books home with them if they so choose. We hope having these books available to the children in Dillon will assist in increasing their early childhood literacy rates.

Poor literacy rates plague many of South Carolina’s rural areas. In an effort to improve literacy rates in Dillon, a town featured amongst its Corridor of Shame brethren, Team 95 North implemented and enhanced Reach Out & Read, a national recognized program, in the pediatric office of Dr. Dante Lewis. This video highlights their project. The project was done as part of the Riley Institute of Furman University’s Diversity Leaders Initiative.