REACH OUT AND READ: CHCHC gives books to kids

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Charles Henderson Child Health Center in Troy was bustling with activity Tuesday morning as the center hosted its annual Reach Out and Read event and prepared for its 40th anniversary celebration in the afternoon.

Ben Busbee, CHCHC administrator, said the Troy child health center advocates for childhood advocacy and operates on the same premise as ROR and, therefore, encourages parents to read regularly to their children and gives them the tools to do so.

Dr. Elizabeth Dawson, CHCHC pediatrician, said each child who comes to the Troy child health center for his or her regular wellness checkup, six months through age five, receives a book to take home.

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Busbee said the best opportunity to influence a child’s future is in the first five years, which is a time of rapid brain development.

“Children who hear fewer words during early childhood start school developmentally behind their peers and may never catch up,” he said. “When families read aloud to their young children, they can give them a better start to life. By giving children books and by encouraging parents to read to their children, hopefully, we are contributing to that better start in life.”

And, even when a child is sick, going to CHCHC means going to a familiar place with familiar smiling faces and kids are okay with that.

So, at Reach Out and Read, Tuesday, there were smiles from ear to ear as stories were read, faces were painted and games were played.

Lindsey Fannin, Troy Public Library children’s librarian, said reading is very important in the lives of young children but not every child has books of their own or someone to read to them.

She expressed appreciation to CHCHC for hosting ROR and for giving children the opportunity to hear stories read to them and a book to take home.

“Every child who participated in Reach Out and Read left with a tote bag of items and a copy of “Alabama: My Home Sweet Home,” which is an Alabama Bicentennial book, to take home,” Fannin said. “Reading is important in the lives of children and CHCHC is putting books in the hands of children and encouraging them to read.”

Steve Flowers, local historian, visited CHCHC’s Reach Out and Read event and shared the story of the man behind Charles Henderson Child Health Center with adults in attendance.

Flowers said Charles Henderson, a Troy native, was an astute businessman who played a key role in Troy’s business and civic development.  As a businessman, Henderson amassed a fortune that will probably never be equaled, Flowers said.

“Charles Henderson was not a lawyer but he wrote a trust that would benefit the schools in Pike County and later provide a health care facility for children regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

“Charles Henderson’s trust was written so that it would remain intact for 20 years, then, the interest from that money, would be used to build schools throughout the county.”

Henderson had been aware of the crippling effect that polio was having on children, so after the schools were built, the money from the trust was used to build a medical facility for the care of children ages through 19.

“Charles Henderson used the wealth he had amassed to help the children of Pike County by providing for their education and for them medically,” Flowers said. “He left a great legacy and I don’t know of anyone who has done more for the betterment of the people of Pike County, than Charles Henderson.”

Flowers said it is important that people know the legacy of Charles Henderson, the man who cared about and provided for generations of children and for those yet to come.