Be the Change: Baby's First Book Bag

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Many hands make light work, and these high school freshman are doing their part to help babies get a head start.

Some Cobblers are helping babies boost their vocabulary.

We head to Central High School to find out how in this week's Be the Change.

Earlier this week, the Central High School freshmen basketball team packed 250 bags of reading materials for "Baby's First Book Bag."

As part of the Black Hills Reads initiative, the bags provide tools for parents to help their children get ahead in their learning experience.

United Way of the Black Hills Community Impact Director Danita Simons says, "Parents are their child's first and foremost teacher. And we want parents to be involved in their child's literacy and academic career throughout their education."

The bags were stuffed with brochures, developmental milestone charts, and of course picture books... including a book called "Making Faces."

Danita Simons says, "And we wanted babies to really see other babies faces and the moods and all the different faces that babies make. In the back, there's a mirror so that they can see themselves in the back. This is also teaching baby how to hold a book. This is what's really important about this because we want babies to love books, be familiar with books."

Simons says reading to and with your child from birth will dramatically increase their language development skills... being able to communicate, express, and understand their ideas through written and spoken word.

Danita Simons says, "The advantage to children have language development as they enter into kindergarten is they will not struggle in school. They're going to adapt easier. They're going to want to grow quicker. They're going to want to read more. Learning will become a little bit easier for them even though learning is a challenge."

The father of one of the basketball players heard United Way needed helping packing the bags at a retreat he was attending.

Father of CHS basketball player Adam Prudich says, "I felt that as my first choice it would be to reach out to the kids just to instill that hey you know there's needs that are out there and it's so much more than your world."

Adam says this was a good opportunity to teach his son about the importance of volunteering.

Adam Prudich says, "You know as a father, I take it as my responsibility to create those kinds of memories for my children because then that carries on as they become parents and then they have kids and then they're able to just have that trickle down effect to where there's always a need and it's just such a rewarding feeling to know that you've impacted some way."

Ayden Prudich and Avery Boechler say this was their first time doing this kind of community service project.

Central High School freshman Ayden Prudich says, "We just felt like it was a good deed that we could do for the community, just giving back to them."

Central High School freshman Avery Boechler says, "It's like a good deed to do so that when they're ready for kindergarten they know how to do (read) books and everything."

We also asked the boys what advice they had for kids entering kindergarten.

Ayden Prudich says, "Stay focused and be friendly with other kids."

Avery Boechler says, "Make friends the first day. Don't make the teacher hate you."

Thanks to a generous donation from the South Dakota Community Foundation, Black Hills Reads will continue for the next three years... providing 750 families with "Baby's First Book Bag."

To learn more about the Black Hills Reads initiative, visit unitedwayblackhills.org.

Have a suggestion for our next "Be the Change" story?

If you do, send their name and contact information to katrinal@blackhillsfox.com.