Plunket and Storytime – Books for Waikato babies

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A programme designed to improve bonding between new born babies and their families is being launched in the Waikato this week.

Storytime Foundation Chief Executive Tony Culliney says the Books for Babies programme is designed to encourage families to bond with their newborn children through books.

Real moments of magic can occur when cuddling and playing with a young child. Reading is a great way to help build a loving, caring relationship between parents and children, something thats vitally important to a childs health and development.

We, via Plunket and other Well Child providers, give age appropriate books to families, who have not yet had an experience of using books, as way to help them experience the joy that a young baby can bring to their family, he says.

Sue Hardley, Plunket Waikato Area Manager, says that as New Zealands largest provider of Well Child services, seeing 9 out of 10 babies born in New Zealand, Plunket is uniquely placed to help support and deliver the programme.

Were always looking for new ways to work with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life.

Research is showing that children introduced to books as babies not only have increased literacy but better health outcomes in the long-term. This just seemed a natural fit for us.

The Books for Babies programme was first introduced in Auckland in 1997 and to date, over 55,000 books have been delivered to families with new born children. Its been such a huge success that the Storytime Foundation is expanding the programme to the Waikato.

The first communities to receive the programme, being rolled out over the next 6 months, are in Waikato are Matamata, Te Aroha, Paeroa, Waihi, Coromandel, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Raglan, Morrinsville, Thames, and Whangamata.

Funding and in-kind sponsorship for the programme has come from a number of agencies, including Todd Foundation, Tindall Foundation, First Sovereign Trust, Penguin, Macmillan, Hauraki PHO and other funders. Mr Culliney says once the programme is underway hes hopeful of securing further financial support

It costs $50 for each child to complete the programme and we currently have enough funding to start the Waikato programme with 300 families. Over the next six months or so I hope to be able to gradually expand the programme across the Waikato region, he says.

The programme is a cooperative venture involving the Storytime Foundation, Plunket and other Well Child providers, plus libraries and local and national funders.

Waikato launch event

10am Thursday 17 May

Riverside Rooms, Main Street, Huntly

How does the programme work?

The programme is targeted to families that front line staff from Plunket and other Well Child providers have identified could benefit from the programme. They assess each family to see if they have books in the home or if the family uses a local library. If the family doesnt have access to childrens books their child is enrolled immediately and they receive quality new books, totally free of charge, as a personal gift.

For more information visit http://www.storytime.org.nz

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