(ATHENS, Ohio — Nov. 25, 2014) Anne Flower is wearing the short
white coat of the physician in training. But at the moment, she’s
bent over a children’s picture book with a 7-year-old girl.
Flower, a second-year student in the Ohio University Heritage
College of Osteopathic Medicine, reads aloud a passage from P.D.
Eastman’s “My Nest is Best,” then pauses to talk about the story and
illustrations. “What do you think is going to happen next?” Flower
asks Destiny Reasoner, who’s listening in rapt attention. “What
animal is that? What kind of sound does he make?”
The two are in the waiting room of the University Medical
Associates pediatric clinic in Ohio University’s Parks Hall in
Athens, where Destiny’s mother has brought her for an appointment.
As with other children the clinic serves, the girl’s visit earned
her a bonus in the form of a reading session and a free book.
It’s all part of a project Flower has organized in connection
with her 2014-15 Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. She’s one of 18
graduate students in the Columbus-Athens area to receive this honor.
A second Heritage College student, third-year Adam Jara, is also a
Schweitzer Fellow, as is Lauren Volpe, a graduate student in Ohio
University’s Patton College of Education. The program selects and
supports about 250 new U.S. graduate students each year, each of
whom partners with a community-based organization to create and
carry out a year-long service project to address unmet health needs.
The participants also go through a rigorous leadership development
Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., praised
the program for its value to students and area residents.
“This program is a win for everyone involved,” Johnson said. “Our
students get the transformative learning experience of creating
programs that address pressing health care needs in underserved
communities. And the people served by these programs end up better
equipped to look after their own health and well-being.”
Flower’s project aims to intervene early in the lives of area
children to instill the joys of literacy by enlisting volunteer
readers to demonstrate read-aloud behavior for parents and engage
kids and by giving the children books to read at home.
“The providers, the pediatricians, will give out books to
patients at six months, 12 months, 18 months, two years, and then
three to five years,” Flower explained. “So the goal of the program
is that every pediatric patient has three to five books in their
home that are appropriate for their age by the time they start
school. And it’s fun, because then you get to leave the office with
a book, and you don’t remember the fact that you just got a shot.
You remember that you got a book, and that’s way more fun!”
Flower, who’s from Cincinnati, got involved in the national Reach
Out and Read program while an undergraduate at Regis University in
Denver. The program’s mission is to prepare children to succeed in
school by partnering with physicians to “prescribe books and
encourage families to read together.”
She noted that Reach Out and Read’s research finds that parents
who get involved with program “are up to four times more likely to
read with their kids at home, and then those kids are better
prepared to start kindergarten. Even if they don’t have the prose
literacy skills yet, they still are familiar with books and with
reading, and they think of it as a fun and enjoyable activity to do
together. So they say that reading is doctor-recommended or
The Parks Hall clinic had a Reach Out and Read program when
Flower arrived, but it lacked its two most essential components –
volunteers and books to give away. Flower is solving the first
problem by pitching the program to student groups.
“I approached the Pediatrics Club at their meeting, and I have 30
people who wrote their names down that they were interested,” she
The second problem was solved with the help of supporters
including the Patton College’s Stevens Literacy Center, which
provided nearly 1,300 books; and OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital and
the Heritage College’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC), which
provided financial support of $1,000 and $500 respectively. “I found
that so many groups were so excited to get on board and get involved
and really generous with their funds,” Flower said.
Kathy Trace, director of Community Health Programs/AHEC at the
Heritage College, coordinates Schweitzer fellowship activities at
Ohio University She said Flower’s efforts fit in well with the
mission of those two programs. “Two of the goals at AHEC and the
Consortium for Health Education in Appalachia Ohio are to provide
community resources to improve health and to support education for
health professionals in underserved areas,” Trace noted. “I see the
$500 to purchase materials for the Reach Out and Read Program as
supporting both of those initiatives.” More information on how to
apply for a Schweitzer fellowship is available on the program’s