Read it here first: Detroit clinic combines literacy and health care
The Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS), a Detroit community-based non-profit, has been providing underserved populations with quality and accessible health care for more than 40 years.
CHASS has a clinic in southwest Detroit, where uninsured and underinsured Detroiters can get health, dental and wellness care. Though the staff is focused on providing physical care to patients, the push to support health in all aspects of their lives has been initiated through a partnership with the Reach Out and Read Initiative, a non-profit which aims to improve literacy.
The partnership began in January, when CHASS began providing free books to each patient between six months and five-years old when they come in for a well-child check-up.
“Unfortunately, many of the families served by CHASS cannot afford to purchase books for their children and therefore, struggle to provide this basic educational opportunity,” said Dr. Richard Bryce, MSUCOM Class of 2008 and physician at CHASS’s Southwest Center. “Encouraging reading in the home may be a way not only to help strengthen a child's ability to read, but improve their confidence and desire to learn and grow.”
The primary fundraiser for this initiative is the CHASS Mexicantown 5K Run/Walk and Children’s Race on Aug. 8. This will be the third time CHASS has held this annual race, and its primary goal is to promote physical activity within its patient population. All other contributions will go to the Reach Out and Read Initiative.
While the race is the main source of funding for the Reach Out and Read Initiative, there has been additional community support, specifically from the Maroun Family Foundation and outside support from the book publisher, Follett Educational Services. Since the start of this program, CHASS has purchased over 1,000 books.
The CHASS staff believes that education is an important piece to incorporate into the care they deliver.
“We use the books as a way to monitor developmental signs in our young patients. We may ask the patient to identify colors, to talk about pictures in the book and to hold the book. This can measure their ability to speak, understand and use motor skills,” said Bryce.
He added, “There have been parents that don't know how to read, others that cannot afford books and others that don't value reading to their children. We wanted to break this difficult cycle that is at no fault of the child.
The look on a child’s face when they get a new book is priceless,” he said.