July 25, 2019. Our program featured Celeste Hayes from the United Way who spoke about the Talk, Read, Sing in the Lehigh Valley program. This is an awareness campaign designed to help caregivers learn the importance of enriching their child's early brain and vocabulary development. Early experiences affect the nature and quality of the brain's developing architecture and determines which circuits are reinforced and which will wane.
During their first four years of life, children in higher income families will be exposed to approximately 30 million more words than those from lower income families. In fact, 2 out of 3 children in the Lehigh Valley are not ready for kindergarten on time. Children in areas including central Allentown, southside Bethlehem, and Easton's West Ward are particularly at risk. 35% of Valley students enter fourth grade without the ability to read at grade level. This can dramatically increase their risk of eventually dropping out of school.
Talk, Read, Sing teaches caregivers how to communicate with the children. The idea is to make small moments big, and to make the moments happen more often. Tools for caregivers are distributed to trusted messengers which are considered safe spots such as stores, barbershops, and laundromats. The tools include t-shirts, tote bags, blankets, and other items emblazoned with suggestions for how to talk to the children. Caregivers are encouraged to ask questions about things like hands, feet, food, clothes, and books. Changing the first few years of a child's life can have a positive impact for the rest of their life. The organization is looking for volunteer Ambassadors to help keep the trusted messenger sites stocked with the latest tools. Volunteers are only expected to spend 2-4 hours per month on these assignments. More information is available at https:// www.unitedwayglv.org/see-the-impact/education/early-learning.