Former President Bill Clinton visits Dundalk
42nd president tours Sollers Point library
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.”
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.
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.