UK HealthCare

UK AdvoCats Encourage Literacy by Supplying New Books to Family Care Center


LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 2014) - A storybook serves as a healthy distraction for children during doctor's visits at the University of Kentucky Family Care Center located on Red Mile Road.

The 19 UK medical residents who provide pediatric care at the center offer children ages 6 months to 5 years a book to take home as part of a routine check-up. Statistics show that when a doctor encourages reading, children and parents are more likely to sit down together with a book. As an added benefit, the gift of a book leaves children with a positive impression of the clinical experience.

"They're just delighted - their faces light up and it changes the tone of the visit from something frightening to welcoming," said Dr. Susan Robbins, medical director at the Family Care Center, said of the children.

Earlier this year, members of AdvoCats, a patient advocacy group comprised of UK attendings, residents and lawyers, raised $1,800 to refurbish the library at the Family Care Center. The AdvoCats sold 276 t-shirts to raise funds, which will be used to purchase books for both single mothers and children who attend the daycare at the Family Care Center. 

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Family Care Center provides a place for teen mothers to complete their high school education while their children attend daycare at the same location. More than 30 pregnant and parenting teens from the Lexington area receive support through the center. With recent renovations to the library, many old and outdated books were discarded, leaving the shelves sparse.

Joanna Rodes, director of the Family Care Center, said the AdvoCats stepped in to help stock the library with new and relevant books for children as well as high school-age mothers. Members of the AdvoCats surprised Rodes with a check for new books after a group tour of the Family Care Center on May 8. Rodes said she was impressed with the high dollar amount the group raised for books and the group's genuine enthusiasm for the program.

"I was astounded by the size of the check, but what was even more surprising was that the residents were so excited," Rodes said. "That was a validation that we have a nice partnerships with the clinic, which is an essential part of the center."

Rodes is working with Holly Von Gruenigen, president of the AdvoCats, to purchase $1,300 worth of children and young adult books for the library and $500 worth of children’s books to be given out when the medical residents host literacy sessions with young mothers in the future. The donation to support literacy coincides with the American Academy of Pediatrics national advocacy theme for 2014.

"It's nice to be able to give extra books to the Family Care Center," Von Gruenigen said. "If you educate parents on the importance of reading, it makes a huge difference."

The AdvoCats plan to coordinate group literacy sessions with mothers and children at the Family Care Center later this year. Sessions will aim to instill an appreciation for reading in both mothers and children.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams;