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Jeff Mann L-R George Proctor, Woodhull medical director Dr. Edward Fishkin, Councilmember Steve Levin, Kiara and Samaris Gonzalez, Woodhull Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Luis Rodriguez and Dr. Alan Mendelsohn Jeff Mann

Levin, Woodhull and Bellevue Announce Hospital-Based Program to Promote School Readiness

Pediatricians at Woodhull Hospital are doing their best Warner Wolf impressions, telling patients to “go to the videotape!”

On Wednesday, August 28th, Woodhull unveiled Video Interaction Project (VIP), a program that promotes school readiness among children from low-income households. Implementation of the program was made possible through funding by Councilmember Steve Levin.

From a newborn’s first visit to Woodhull’s pediatric clinic through age five, parents are offered the opportunity to participate in VIP. While waiting to see the doctor, families meet with child development specialists, who record the parent and child playing or reading together. The parent then reviews the video with the specialist, leading to improved interactions with the child. The learning materials, specifically selected to promote parent-child engagement, such as toys and books, are given to the parents to take home.

VIP was designed at Bellevue Hospital by Children of Bellevue’s Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, in 1999, in collaboration with New York University School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics to address disparities in development, school readiness and educational achievement between children living in poverty and middle-to-high income families. The program builds on Woodhull’s already successful Reach Out and Read child literacy program, which promotes school readiness by giving books to children at regular checkups, starting at 6 months of age, along with advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Children of Bellevue is a nonprofit that initiates, funds, and develops programs that improve the health and well-being of children at Bellevue Hospital Center.

“We are proud to have this program at Woodhull [providing] families with the tools to enhance early child education,” said George Proctor, Senior Vice President for the Woodhull North Brooklyn Health Network. “VIP is an excellent example of the hospital’s commitment to the overall health and well-being of the communities we serve.”

By all accounts, kids and parents who participate in VIP have great results. Children develop improved language skills, greater problem solving abilities, higher IQs, early literacy, improved ability to focus and reduced behavioral problems. Parents are learning to better understand babies’ responses and interact more productively with their children. Young mom, Kiara Gonzalez, a new VIP participant described feeling a greater sense of confidence while interacting with two month old daughter Samaris.

“It is essential that we do everything we can as a city to help at-risk children,” said Levin. “The Video Interaction Project does just that by promoting school readiness amongst kids that need the most help.”

VIP is expected to serve up to 1000 children in its first year. Already more than 100 families have signed up for the program. In addition to City Council funding, the VIP program at Bellevue and Woodhull hospitals also receives funding from the Tiger Foundation and the Marks Family Foundation.

For more information about how families can participate in VIP, call 718-963-8184.

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