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Aug 07
2009

BY TIME STAFF

MERRILLVILLE | The pediatric unit at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus now has its very own Reading Room, thanks to the Methodist Hospitals Auxiliary.

Connie Hickman, auxiliary president, wanted to establish the room in memory of her late husband, Robert Hickman, and she donated the furnishings.

The books distributed to patients are donated through Project R.E.A.D. (Reading Early Accelerates Development) by the Gary Literacy Coalition Inc.

Project R.E.A.D. is a hospital volunteer program that focuses 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 hospital's pediatric literacy initiative, Reach Out and Read, a national early literacy program, sanctioned by pediatricians, that makes books a routine part of pediatric care.

In seven years, more than 10,000 books have been distributed through the Methodist Hospitals' program.

Connie Hickman believes the Reading Room will bring attention to Project R.E.A.D. and GLC. She said that she wants, above all else, to "keep the project going, healthy and strong."

Believing reading at a young age creates a solid base for one's future, she feels the new Reading Room and Project R.E.A.D. will aid young patients. "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," she said in a news release.

Fredricka Davidson, past president/advisor, has been a passionate member of the auxiliary and has worked within the hospital to promote early reading advocacy.

Also vice president of GLC, Davidson said that "Project R.E.A.D. and the Reading Room will have a significant and positive impact on not only the children...but on their parents and other family members as well."

Era C. Twyman, executive director of the GLC, recognizes the value of providing books to young children. " GLC will continue to provide books as needed. Literacy is fundamental to leading a healthy life," she said. "By developing a strong base in literacy, children are able to better achieve academically."

GLC is funded via grants and monetary contributions. To make a contribution or volunteer as a mentor, call (219) 885-2229.

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