Brevard Public Schools Launches “Thrive by Five” Initiative to Provide Books to Babies

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Brevard Public Schools is partnering with local hospitals to provide all babies born in the county with their first picture books as part of an initiative to increase early childhood learning.

Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Russell Bruhn said the project, titled “Thrive by Five,” had been in the works for about four years, according to News 6 Florida Today partners.

Parents of babies born in Brevard will receive bags containing a copy of “The Brown Bear, the Brown Bear, What Do You See”, a bib, and a handout on how to maximize early childhood learning with a QR code that can take new parents to the district’s Thrive by Five website. The website has links to other free resources on childhood development, how babies learn, and how to keep young children on track to start reading.

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“For several years now, I have been looking for a way to ensure that our youngest learners, even from birth, are on the path to success even before entering our schools, because we know that if we can bring every toddler to be ready to read in kindergarten, their luck, their opportunity, their trajectory of academic success is soaring, ”BPS Superintendent Mark Mullins said at a press conference Monday for the initiative.

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Mullins said at a school board meeting last Tuesday that the resources will help families take advantage of a critical learning period in children’s lives and prepare them for school. Between birth and age 5, children develop 85% of their brains, including critical neural pathways related to language and communication

“If you’ve raised a kid, you know those early years, they change quickly, they learn quickly,” Mullins said. “In fact, they develop over a million neural connections per second… their brains are hardwired from birth to prepare to learn for the rest of their lives and their neurons are only firing at an accelerated rate.”

As of Monday, the website has been online and billboards have been promoting the initiative. Almost 1,500 bags have been packed so far, but BPS will need to pack more to support the 5,000 or so babies born in Brevard each year.

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Members of local hospitals, school district staff, chambers of commerce and school board members Katye Campbell and Cheryl McDougall gathered on Monday morning to wrap around 400 bags.

Children will get more books at 1, 2 and 3, Mullins said.

Mullins remarked at a school board meeting last Tuesday that when district staff contacted local hospital groups Health First, Steward Health Care and Parrish Medical Center, “it was the absolute fastest yes I got. have heard “.

“I phoned each of the CEOs in the organization and I said, ‘You know, we have this crazy idea of ​​connecting with all of the families who have kids in our community every day throughout the whole year. ‘year, “says Mullins. “’The problem is, I don’t know who they are, but you know because they go through your birth centers. Would you allow us to provide you with these kits or bags of family resources? And immediately it was the fastest absolute yes I have ever received from a business partner in the community.

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Hospital groups also contribute to the financing of the initiative.

“Regular reading to young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which in turn strengthens the language, literacy, and social and emotional skills that last a lifetime, ”Timothy Laird, chief medical officer for Health First Medical Group, said. “Once again, we are privileged and honored to partner with our public schools in this important Thrive by Five initiative. “

The district is also working on developing an app to accompany the initiative, although Bruhn said it was not yet clear when the app would be ready.

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