In late 2022, Neighborhood North launched their “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign by partnering with our local McDonald’s to distribute books with each Happy Meal. This project is presented in collaboration with Too Small to Fail, a national initiative of the Clinton Foundation and its Pittsburgh Peer Learning Collaborative, a cohort of nine organizations in Pittsburgh focused on boosting the early learning and brain development of children from birth through age five.
“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” aims to give parents and caregivers the tools to talk, read and sing more with their young children from birth, increasing meaningful interactions that are critical to healthy brain development. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, almost 60 percent of American children start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Research shows that during the first years of life a child’s brain forms one million new neural connections every second and absorbs information like a sponge. This is why simple, everyday interactions with young children—like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories—can better prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for their social-emotional development, health, and lifelong learning.
As part of their “Talking is Teaching” campaign, Neighborhood North has partnered with the local McDonald’s restaurant and the regional Tri-County Management team to distribute books and literacy kits with each Happy Meal, install signage that encourages curiosity and interaction into the restaurant and baby changing stations, and integrate tabletop activities in the Children’s Area.
Neighborhood North has also trained McDonald’s management and staff to be trusted messengers in the community and share information with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their child’s early brain development. These trusted messengers will distribute language-rich Talking is Teaching materials—including books and literacy kits that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children.
To date, over 3,500 books and literacy kits have been distributed through this program.
Due to the success of this initial program, a second initiative was launched in 2023, as part of a of a state-wide Clinton Foundation Talking is Teaching Initiative to transform public spaces into family-friendly literacy nooks. As part of this initiative, Neighborhood North partnered with the SOMA Gathering/The Well and the Beaver Falls Primary Health Network to install a literacy nook within each location, with the potential impact of reaching nearly 2500 families each week. In early 2024, we were able to partner with the Aliquippa Wash & Fold Laundromat to install a literacy nook in their space, thanks to the generous donation from Lakeshore Learning.
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