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Improving reading skills and improving health

By The PHCD Team   |   October 2, 2014

When kids can't read, they can't succeed.

The statement above is a driving force behind United Way of the Wine Country’s Schools of Hope (SOH) program. Schools of Hope is an early reading initiative designed to help children read at or above grade level by pairing them with a trained community volunteer who reads with them for 30 minutes at least once a week.

The Petaluma Health Care District recently signed on to become an official SOH Outreach Partner, helping to raise awareness and recruit volunteers for this fantastic program as it expands its reach in Petaluma.

Now, you may be wondering why a health care organization would undertake such an effort. And the answer can be explained by taking SOH’s motto one step further:

When kids can’t read, they can’t succeed.

And when they can’t succeed, their health suffers.

PHCD strongly believes that improving literacy among our littlest residents is one of the greatest health prevention practices we can undertake. Third grade reading proficiency is a strong predictor of many educational successes later in life, from high school graduation to college attendance to advanced degree attainment. More and more research is showing that education is one of the greatest predictors of lifelong health. Simply put: the more schooling individuals have, the better their health is likely to be.

Here in Petaluma, just over half of our third graders are reading at grade level[1]. Thankfully, Schools of Hope is expanding threefold in Petaluma, from two school sites to six. They’re now operating in Petaluma City Schools, Old Adobe Union School District, Cinnabar, Two Rock, and Wilmar districts and are reaching 80 students. And this means they’ll need more volunteers than ever.

PHCD is committed to ensuring that every SOH site within our District boundary gets every volunteer it needs. To sign up to be a volunteer this spring, call the SOH recruitment partner, Volunteer Center of Sonoma County at 573-3399 x121 or visit the United Way of the Wine Country SOH website.Or, reach out to us; we’ll direct you where you need to go.

PHCD is committed to the health and well being of our residents; and this means ensuring every one of our children is achieving literacy success!


[1] Data provided by the Sonoma County Department of Health Care Services and obtained though CDE Dataquest. Data reflects 2013 third-grade reading levels.


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