Barnyard animals invade child health center in Troy

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Children listen as Troy Public Library Children's Librarian Tereasa Colvin talks in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, July 25, 2012.

Written by Whitley Kilcrease

The Charles Henderson Child Health Center was overrun by bright yellow “ducks,” cuddly pink “pigs” and fuzzy brown “cows” during the “Barnyard Dance” event held Wednesday.

The occasion was part of the third annual summer campaign with Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that works with pediatric health care providers to promote early literacy among children and their parents.

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“It went really well,” Rosemary Hanson, social worker and coordinator with Reach Out and Read, said. “We had some [kids] stay all morning. They had a good time.”

The theme this year was based on the children’s book “Barnyard Dance!” by Sandra Boynton, a sing-along, dance-along story filled with twirling pigs and fiddle-playing cows. The text and plot of the story encourages children to get active and exercise in fun ways such as a traditional “hoedown.”

The story features an eclectic band of barnyard animals following the square dance calls of a fiddle-playing cow. Children are encouraged to dance and “sing” along by performing the dance moves and imitating animal noises when instructed.

“The point of today is to get the kids out and active,” Hanson said. “I think they’re doing pretty well with that today.”

The festivities at the center captured the spirit and essence of the story, with farm animals decorating the waiting room and games such as “pin the bell on the cow,” “barnyard beanbag toss” and a version of musical chairs played with pictures of farm animals. The children participating sported sun visors of ducks, pigs and cows and took home prizes such as beach balls, sidewalk chalk, hula-hoops and jump ropes. Each participant also left with a copy of “Barnyard Dance!” and a goodie bag, containing a coloring book, a farm animal bookmark, a pencil and tips for parents on encouraging children to read.

Teresa Colvin of the Troy Public Library also participated in the event, bringing along her puppet “Trouble the Goat” to instruct the children on proper book care and encourage them to visit the library at their new facilities on Walnut Street, which opened July 12. She also read aloud from children’s books such as “Barnyard Dance!” and “The Wide-Mouthed Frog” by Keith Faulkner, much to the children’s delight.

“I think it’s wonderful. I appreciate that I am invited to participate,” Colvin said. “It emphasizes how important it is for children to have books in the home.”

Colvin encourages parents to interact with their children by reading as a family and using the library to “build bonds of literacy.”

“I believe in raising a good reader,” Colvin said. “That begins at home and community support such as this really gets kids excited about reading.”

According to Hanson, the center gives away a free book to every child six months to five years during routine well-child checkups.

This is one step in their three-part literacy promotion model, which includes health care providers stressing to parents the importance of reading aloud to young children everyday and displaying a “literacy-rich” environment in waiting rooms, such as wall decorations and readily available children’s books.

“It’s very important to introduce children early to reading,” Hanson said. “This year we encourage kid’s to get out and get active. Get off the TV and computer and get exercise.”

The center hosts an event such as this every summer, such as last year’s theme which focused on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and encouraged healthy eating habits in young children.