Age Literacy' matters
An organization called Southeastern Medical Alliance, Inc. from
Madison, has reached out with its message of the importance of early
age literacy to Ripley County, not just Jefferson County, where
the group is based.
Southeastern Medical Alliance began in Jefferson County 10 years
ago to promote early age literacy. They have grown so much that
they are now able to reach out to surrounding counties. A year ago,
the alliance provided age-appropriate books to each child involved
in the story time at Tyson Library. This year they are continuing
that tradition. In addition, all children who register for kindergarten
at any Ripley County school for the 2011-2012 school year, will
receive a free book.
The alliance is doing all of this because they are saddened that
many citizens cannot read. Adult literacy can be defined as persons
16 years of age or older using printed or written information to
function in society, to achieve goals, and to develop knowledge
and potential. There are five levels of adult literacy:
Adults at Level I (below basic) may or may not be able to read simple
words and text.
Adults at Level 2 (basic) may be able to read simple childrens
books, parts of newspapers, patient information enclosed with prescriptions
but often do not comprehend or understand much of what they read.
Persons at Level 1 or Level 2 are funtionally illiterate. Approximately
8% of adults in Indiana are functionally illiterate and in rural
southern Indiana the percentage rate is higher.
Southeastern Indiana Alliance is making a difference. They have
been able to donate approximately 8,000 books annually to babies,
toddlers, and preschoolers in Jefferson and surrounding counties.
This means that over a 10-year-period, they have put about 80,000
books into our community, the size of a small library.
How it started:
The Southeastern Medical Alliance came into being as the dream of
a couple of physicians wives in Madison: Donna Kruger and
They realized that many citizens could not read and took steps to
prevent this from happening to subsequent generations. In April
of 2001, the Bethany Circle of Kings Daughters Hospital,
sponsored a luncheon for physicians spouses to consider forming
a medical alliance in Jefferson County. As a result, the Southeastern
Medical Alliance was formed.
Members agreed to promote early age literacy as a service project
in their community. In October of 2001, with support from the Medical
Society, Bethany Circle, and Kings Daughters Hospital
& Health Services, this alliance started a Reach Out &
Read program in pediatric offices.
What they do:
Today, the alliance sponsors 12 Reach Out & Read
sites in doctors offices and health departments across five
different counties in our area. They also give out new age-appropriate
books to local preschools and day care centers. In addition, they
give new age-appropriate books to children registering for kindergarten,
parents going through childbirth classes, and story hour participants.
Here are some of the other things they do:
They provide baskets of gently-used books in medical waiting
Give gift bags to preschool in-patients at Kings Daughters
Sponsor an early age literacy booth at the Jefferson County
4-H Fair with a drawing for a book-bag filled with approximately
$250.00 worth of books.
Make annual book gifts to local agencies that provide services
for young children, such as Girls, Inc., La Casa Amiga, and the
Kruger and Skiles live by the sage advice of author Carl Sagan,
One of the greatest gifts adults can give - to their offspring
and their society - is to read to children.
You, too, can make a difference in your community. To make donations
to this worthy cause, write to Southeastern Medical Alliance at
PO Box 305, Madison, IN 47250. You can also contact Kruger at 812-866-2252
or Skiles at 812-528-8150.