SMART's literacy leaders read aloud to children and give them books to keep for their home libraries. When we read to twenty children we bring at least twenty copies of the book, so that every child holds a copy. Reading itself is a hands-on activity. SMART's programs reach children directly with books and reading-aloud experiences. Here are a few highlights.
"SMART Heart Partners: Starting Early to Build Healthy Adult Hearts," our expanded partnership with UTMB provides a STEM-educated volunteer workforce of culturally diverse role models to read in classrooms and promote heart-healthy active learning at family events. Resident physicians from UTMB Pediatrics and UTMB Family Medicine working with SMART aim to reach children in five school districts with 9,000 books during the 2022-23 school year. Hands-on activities include food tasting with fruits and veggies, growing vegetables in the garden, data collection, yoga poses, tossing an inflatable globe to learn about continents and oceans, learning how to use a stethoscope, and simple science observations like "buoyancy with raisin submarines" and "making carbon dioxide at the gas station."
"NICU Read-a-thon 365" is our newest partnership. Working with UTMB's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we carefully selected about 150 books for parents and NICU professionals to read to babies, even those who must remain in the incubators. Families are given books to keep when they go home. The books make a palpable difference to those involved with this emotional experience. Our next 10-day event is planned in early 2023.
Pumpkin Patch Storytime at Moody Methodist Church provides a book for every one of the 1,700 children who visit with their teachers for an October school field trip. Readers trained by SMART Family Literacy read aloud to each group. Parent chaperones, teachers, and children learn together about the natural science and nutritional value of pumpkins and other squash. This is the naturally perfect combination of literacy outreach and veggie education (LOVE).