For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton vis­its Dun­dalk

42nd pres­i­dent tours Sollers Point li­brary

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By NI­COLE RODMAN nrod­man@ches­pub.com

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton vis­ited Dun­dalk on Mon­day, ded­i­cat­ing new ed­u­ca­tional pan­els at the Sollers Point Mul­tipur­pose Cen­ter play­ground.

The signs were placed as part of the Foun­da­tion for Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Li­brary’s (BCPL) par­tic­i­pa­tion in Too Small to Fail’s “Talk­ing is Teach­ing: Talk, Read, Sing” ini­tia­tive.

Too Small to Fail is a joint ini­tia­tive of The Op­por­tu­nity In­sti­tute and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.

The stop in Dun­dalk was part of a three­day tour tak­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent to Clin­ton Foun­da­tion projects across the na­tion.

Clin­ton kicked off his Bal­ti­more visit at Johns Hop­kins Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health on Mon­day with a sum­mit on the opi­oid epi­demic be­fore mak­ing his way to Dun­dalk.

Prior to ded­i­cat­ing the pan­els, Clin­ton toured the Sollers Point Mul­tipur­pose Cen­ter, which houses BCPL’s Sollers Point branch. In ad­di­tion to the play­ground sig­nage, Too Small to Fail early

lit­er­acy ma­te­ri­als have been in­te­grated into the li­brary.

Ac­cord­ing to Patti Miller, di­rec­tor of Too Small to Fail, the fouryear-old pro­gram is de­signed to raise aware­ness of the im­pact talk­ing to in­fants and tod­dlers has on lan­guage and lit­er­acy de­vel­op­ment.

Nearly 60 per­cent of chil­dren, Miller noted, show up to kinder­garten with­out the nec­es­sary lan­guage and lit­er­acy skills.

Too Small to Fail, in part­ner­ship with BCPL, seeks to change that.

The ini­tia­tive reaches out to par­ents and chil­dren “where they are,” de­vel­op­ing ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als that are widely dis­trib­uted in pub­lic places, from play­grounds to laun­dro­mats.

Sollers Point is the 83rd play­ground to re­ceive the signs, built through a part­ner­ship be­tween Too Small to Fail, Shane’s In­spi­ra­tion and Land­scape Struc­tures, Inc. Fund­ing for the signs was pro­vided by the Foun­da­tion for BCPL.

The signs fea­ture shapes, bright col­ors and con­ver­sa­tion prompts de­signed to en­cour­age par­ents and chil­dren to talk, play and ex­plore.

In ad­di­tion to the signs, the Foun­da­tion for BCPL has com­mit­ted an ad­di­tional $12,000 to ex­pand the “Talk­ing is Teach­ing” ini­tia­tive across Bal­ti­more County.

Ad­di­tional projects have not yet been an­nounced.

BCPL is the first li­brary to part­ner with the Too Small to Fail ini­tia­tive.

“The Foun­da­tion for BCPL views reading as a crit­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal tool for all ages,” said Greg Jones, pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tion’s board of di­rec­tors, “and sup­port­ing early learn­ing is a nat­u­ral first step.”

In her re­marks, BCPL di­rec­tor Paula Miller praised the “col­lec­tive im­pact of col­lab­o­ra­tion and part­ner­ship,” thank­ing part­ners such as the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, the Foun­da­tion for BCPL, Too Small to Fail, Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools and oth­ers.

She also thanked the Turner Sta­tion Con­ser­va­tion Teams, in­clud­ing pres­i­dent Glo­ria Nel­son and vice pres­i­dent Edyth Brooks. “It’s awe­some,” Nel­son told the

Ea­gle, call­ing the day’s events “an­other some­thing we put down in the his­tory books.”

She added, “It’s all about the kids and we’re so grate­ful.”

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton im­me­di­ately put the crowd at ease. He opened his re­marks by say­ing, “I’m look­ing at all th­ese kids who are think­ing, ‘When is this old guy go­ing to shut up so we can play?’”

He noted his early in­ter­est in child­hood lit­er­acy and also cited his wife, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State and 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, as in­spi­ra­tion for his in­ter­est.

“Hil­lary took an ex­tra year in law school just to study early child­hood de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

He stressed the im­por­tance of early learn­ing in build­ing life­long lit­er­acy.

“So many of the neu­ral net­works needed to support learn­ing are formed by the time chil­dren are three years old,” he said, urg­ing care­givers to “talk, read and sing to chil­dren from the day they are born.”

Clin­ton thanked Too Small to Fail and BCPL, not­ing, “I am grate­ful for all th­ese peo­ple who rec­og­nize that learn­ing be­gins as early as birth and can oc­cur on a play­ground as well as at a desk.”

“You can never know what’s in the head of a child,” he con­cluded, adding, “You can do a lot to make sure what­ever they imag­ine, they live.”

PHO­TOS BY NI­COLE RODMAN

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton cut the rib­bon on ed­u­ca­tional pan­els at the Sollers Point play­ground on Oct. 30.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Clin­ton of­fered re­marks at the Sollers Point play­ground on Mon­day.

PHO­TOS BY NI­COLE RODMAN

After cut­ting the rib­bon, Clin­ton cut small pieces of rib­bon as keep­sakes for ev­ery child present.

The Talk­ing is Teach­ing pan­els re­mind par­ents to “talk, read and sing” to their chil­dren to boost lan­guage and lit­er­acy skills.

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