Children’s Hospital New Orleans Partners with Leaders to Launch ‘Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing’ Campaign

Children’s Hospital New Orleans, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, Too Small to Fail, and Kohl’s Cares announced  the launch of a new, local campaign to boost the early brain development and language skills of children from birth through age five. Working together with the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative, New Orleans will become the fourteenth community in the country to implement a local “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign.

“The youth of New Orleans matter. On behalf of the children of this city, I am grateful for the leadership of the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail Initiative and Kohl’s Cares for launching ‘Talking is Teaching’ in New Orleans – which is the fourteenth community in the country to adopt this program,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This campaign equips parents and caregivers with resources needed to help boost early brain development and language skills. We remain committed to the success of our youth and we look forward to the impact of this program in the lives of children across New Orleans.”

“All parents want what’s best for their children, and that’s why I’m thrilled to be here with Too Small to Fail, Children’s Hospital New Orleans, and local partners as New Orleans becomes our fourteenth ‘Talking Is Teaching’ community,” said Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton. “As we expand this work across the country, we know we need as many people and partners engaged so that every child can get every opportunity they deserve to learn and thrive.”

“We are excited to partner with Kohl’s again to bring ‘Talking is Teaching’ to the New Orleans community,” said Barbara LeBlanc, director of The Parenting Center. “Look for the colorful posters at bus shelters, inside buses and streetcars, and in waiting rooms when you visit your pediatrician or Children’s Hospital. In addition, thanks to Kohl’s and the New Orleans Health Department, every baby born at Touro and West Jefferson Family Birth Place, our LCMC Health partners, will receive a packet with a children’s board book, a onesie with bright graphics, and a booklet reminding parents of their important contribution to their baby’s development by talking, reading, and singing from birth.” 

Joining in the launch of Children’s Hospital’s Talking is Teaching initiative are, left to right, Patti Miller, chief executive officer, Too Small To Fail initiative; John Nickens IV, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital; Chelsea Clinton, vice chair, The Clinton Foundation; Fran Lawless, interim director, City of New Orleans Health Department; Katherine Crosby, chair, LCMC Board of Trustees; and Barbara LeBlanc, director of The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital.

Scientific evidence shows that the first five years present a critical window of opportunity for a child’s brain development. During these years, parents and caregivers can build a strong foundation for learning that their children will need to lead healthy and productive lives. “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” aims to motivate parents and caregivers to engage in meaningful interactions with their young children through talking, reading, and singing together from birth.

In Louisiana, almost half of all children (46 percent) enter kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, reading, and social-emotional skills. Less than 15 percent of at-risk children under age four have access to any publicly-funded early childhood program.

Research shows that simple, everyday interactions with young children – like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories – can build their vocabularies, prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for their social-emotional development, health, and lifelong learning.

The “Talking is Teaching” campaign will include several components. They include:

-Collaboration with local pediatricians and medical staff to counsel parents and distribute resources. “Talking is Teaching” will partner with trusted messengers, such as Children’s Hospital pediatricians, physicians, and medical staff at Touro Family Birthing Center, West Jefferson Family Birth Place, Children’s Pediatrics Clinics, and the New Orleans Health Department to share information and tools with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their children’s early brain and language development. These community partners will distribute evidence-based materials – including children’s books, tip sheets, and clothing with prompts that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children.

-Signage to transform public hospital spaces such as waiting rooms into more educational, language-rich environments for kids and families. Medical waiting rooms and hospitals will display posters to highlight conversational prompts and activities parents and children can share.

-A community multimedia campaign.

The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital has been the beneficiary of Kohl’s funding for the last four years. The “Talking Is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” NOLA program will be funded through a grant of $150,000 over two years from Kohl’s. This commitment to Children’s Hospital is made possible through the Kohl’s philanthropic merchandise program, Kohl’s Cares, which sells children’s books and soft toys and donates 100 percent of the net profit to charitable initiatives nationwide, including hospital partnerships like this one. Since 2011, Children’s Hospital has received more than $260,000 in grant funding from Kohl’s. For more information, visit www.Kohls.com/Cares.

For more information about the national campaign, including parent-friendly resources, tips, and activities, visit www.talkingisteaching.org, or follow Too Small to Fail on Facebook.