Second Annual BJC Book Brigade Sends Area Children Home for the Summer with a New Book
When second-graders in public school districts served by BJC HealthCare packed up their desks after the school year ended, they had a brand new book to take home to encourage their summer reading.
In its second year, the BJC Book Brigade provided more than 25,000 books to rising third-graders in over 320 public and charter schools throughout the communities served by BJC hospitals including St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Columbia, Sullivan and Farmington in Missouri; and Alton, Belleville and Shiloh, Ill. The program is a BJC community outreach effort in recognition of the correlation between education and higher income, better health and longer life expectancy.
“We want to encourage reading, knowing it is the foundation of learning and because there is a relationship between educational attainment and health outcomes,” says June McAllister Fowler, BJC senior vice president of communications, marketing and public affairs, who directs the BJC program. “Our BJC Book Brigade is an opportunity for us to champion learning and support our communities.”
Book titles are selected by curriculum specialists based on age-appropriate content and storyline messages. Employees have the opportunity to donate books online or at local drop-off points, and BJC supplies the remainder. Books are packaged and delivered to the districts prior to the end of the school year to encourage summer reading programs.
“While it may seem like a modest effort to us, many of the children who received a book last year wrote touching notes to express their heartfelt appreciation for a brand new book of their own,” added Fowler. “In the journey toward higher education and better health, the BJC Book Brigade is one small step that will take a very long time. But, we believe it’s well worth the long-term effort toward improved reading, high school graduation rates and, ultimately, better health for the future.”
Books were collected beginning in February and delivered to schools by May 12.