Reggie Bush ProCamp, local organization team up to score TD for literacy

Campers attending the Reggie Bush Football ProCamp at Helix Charter High School not only had two great days of football instruction, they learned how the simple act of reading can help them achieve their goals and dreams. Bush was in town July 14-15 to put on his annual football camp as the first part of The Reggie Bush Charity Weekend string of events. Several other NFL players and coaches were on hand as well to assist with the 240 campers. Camp Director Rod Huber shared the message to campers and their parents about the importance of reading and doing well in school for life-long success. Through Reach Out and Read San Diego (RORSD), a program of the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP-CA, Chapter 3), families receive free books, from their pediatrician at well-child check-ups, and a prescription to “read aloud to your children.” Damon Chase, athletic director and principal for Helix Charter High, felt it important to get the message about reading out to the kids and parents. “Mastering reading provides a foundation for everything. We focus on that here at Helix, but the earlier you start the better. Not only for success with sports but success in life!”

The first day of camp, RORSD doctors and Student Ambassador Sarah Lackey gave out the classic Dr. Seuss book “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” as inspiration to reach for your dreams. Sarah donated used books and also provided funding, along with the Philanthropy Club of Rancho Santa Fe, for the new books. The 17-year-old attends Cathedral Catholic High School and has created a nonprofit called “Books for Friends.” Having been bullied as a child, Sarah found that books were her friends and they changed her life. She turned her love for books into a passion for helping programs such as RORSD get books into the hands of more children in need.

Campers supported local clinics by bringing in over 600 used books on the second day of camp which were stacked high to score a “Touchdown for Literacy!” Dr. Wendy Pavlovich, with Family Health Centers of San Diego, enjoyed the event. “As pediatricians we encourage families to read with their children from infancy. It is wonderful when we can partner with sports figures, such as Reggie Bush, to help us reinforce this message. It is a very powerful endorsement of reading as a part of healthy physical and mental development. Together we make a great team.”

Pediatricians from Family Health Centers of San Diego, Vista Community Clinic, San Ysidro Health Center, UCSD and North County Health Services were presented with the donated books that they can use in their waiting and exam rooms to encourage reading.

The latest research tells us that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops in the first five years of life and that talking, reading, and singing is critical in making these brain connections. Still many families have not heard this message and children from more affluent homes hear 30 million more words, before kindergarten, than children in low- income households. Reach Out and Read San Diego, www.rorsd.org, is a program that is working to close this word gap by encouraging parents to read to their children daily.

Through RORSD, each child starts kindergarten with a home library of up to 10 new, carefully chosen books and a parent who has heard at every well-child check-up about the importance of books and reading. Parents learn how much their child’s brain is growing and the important role they play as their child’s first and best teacher. There are 88 medical offices throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties, participating in this program, providing books to more than 85,000 low-income children every year. RORSD is just one of the many programs coordinated and led by the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP-CA3), in partnership with local pediatricians, working to address the issues of children’s healthy development. For more information please contact Tara Milbrand at tmilbrand@aapca3.org or call (858) 361-4644.

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