The pediatric unit at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus now has its very own “Reading Room,” thanks to Methodist Hospitals Auxiliary. Connie Hickman, President of Methodist Hospitals Auxiliary, wanted to establish the room in memory of her late husband, Robert Hickman. She donated the furnishings for the room. The books, which are distributed to the young patients, are donated through Project R.E.A.D. (Reading Early Accelerates Development) by the Gary Literacy Coalition, Inc. (GLC). Project R.E.A.D. is a Methodist Hospitals volunteer program that focuses primarily on reading to infants and young children. While serving as the literacy link for Project R.E.A.D., the Gary Literacy Coalition, Inc. supports the Methodist Hospitals pediatric literacy initiative, Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read is a national early literacy program, sanctioned by pediatricians, that makes books a routine part of pediatric care. During the last seven years, over 10,000 books have been distributed through the Methodist Hospitals’ Project R.E.A.D. program.
Connie Hickman feels that the new “Reading Room” will place continued support and attention to Project R.E.A.D. and The Gary Literacy Coalition, Inc. When asked what she would most like to see done with the new room, Connie replied that she wants, above all else, to “keep the project going, healthy and strong.” The Hickman’s have always felt that reading at a young age creates a solid base for one’s future and thus, she feels that the new “Reading Room” and Project R.E.A.D. will aid the young patients in developing this base. “Not only does the reading help them (the children), but the comfort that comes from a good story will also help to lift their spirits.” Fredricka Davidson, Past President/Advisor, has been a passionate member of the auxiliary for many years and has worked consistently within the hospitals to promote early reading advocacy. Fredricka, also Vice-President of GLC, stated that, “Project R.E.A.D. and the “Reading Room” will have a significant and positive impact on not only the children who benefit from them, but on their parents and other family members as well. The GLC/Project R.E.A.D. literacy link provides Methodist Hospitals another unique community service opportunity.”
Era C. Twyman, Executive Director of the Gary Literacy Coalition, Inc., recognizes the value of providing books to young children. She stated that “GLC will continue to provide books as needed. Literacy is fundamental to leading a healthy life. By developing a strong base in literacy, children are able to better achieve academically. GLC provides books which give children more opportunities to read and learn.”
The Gary Literacy Coalition, Inc. is funded via grants and monetary contributions. Individuals who are interested in making a contribution or volunteering as a mentor may contact GLC at (219) 885-2229.
Photo Caption: Pictured (L to R) Era Twyman, Fredericka Davidson and Connie Hickman celebrate the opening of the Reading Room at Methodist Hospitals' Pediatric Unit in Merrillville. The room was made possible through the efforts of the auxillary and Methodist Hospitals partnership with the Gary Literacy Coalition.
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