In 2015 the Rotary Club president at the time Nate Moseman, made a request for ideas for potential club projects.
Rotarians who had been involved in the Strive program (Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education) realized that our program was mainly a last chance for students while in high school to pull their grades up and finish strong. It helped the most motivated individuals but was too little too late for too many.
We had been thinking of starting some kind of educational program earlier for quite a while.
Rotarian, Dr. Jeff Hardwig, became aware of the studies showing that language acquisition had a critical period in the first years of life when the child’s brain is making connections (synapses) at an astonishing rate of 1-2 million synapses per second. It is during this period that Children benefit most from hearing as many words as possible and reading out loud to children gives them a greatly increased vocabulary and readiness to excel in school. It’s also an emotionally bonding experience to read to a child. They love it.
Armed with the science, Rotary gathered a group of community individuals who play a role in early childhood education to get their advice.
The first planning meeting was attended by 16 people with more added to our group later including a clinic physician, many early childhood teachers, public health, school principal and Rotarians.