Harford-based Kiddie Academy spreads love of books to children in the hospital

To commemorate March as National Reading Awareness Month and underscore its continuing commitment to serving families throughout Harford County, the leadership team at Kiddie Academy recently joined The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation to spotlight the importance of reading and impact books have on children’s emotional well-being.

Kiddie Academy, headquartered in Abingdon, donated more than 300 books to the Foundation to be distributed in its Special Care Nursery and Children’s Center and the CLIMB Program. The donations were made last week at the Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

“We are so happy to have the books to share with our families, especially the families with substance exposed newborns. We encourage parents in our special care nursery to read to their infants as it helps soothe them. Studies have also shown that gentle voice reading helps infants’ neurodevelopment, bonding and long-term cognitive abilities,” Nurse Manager Teresa O’Sullivan said.

Michelle Byers, Cancer LifeNet oncology supportive care social worker, will distribute some of the books to children in their CLIMB Program.

“Climb is a six-week program to support the emotional needs of children who have parents and grandparents undergoing cancer treatment,” Byers said. “We help the children understand they are not responsible for the illness and teach them ways to help their loved ones. Reading books can be used as one way to help the children work through some of the frustration and anxiety they have as they learn new coping skills.”

The donated books were collected as part of a recent book drive held at Kiddie Academy’s corporate headquarters and its flagship location, Kiddie Academy of Abingdon, to kick off its national sponsorship of PBS Kids’ Pinkalicious & Peteriffic Series.

The in-kind donation was presented by Kiddie Academy Executive Chairman Mike Millerand company President Greg Helwig to Philanthropy Officer Crystal Clark of The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation and other Upper Chesapeake Medical Center staff clinicians. To make the presentation memorable as well as help entertain attending children, Kiddie Academy Vice President of Marketing Nicole Salla and Chief Development Officer Josh Frick came fully outfitted in festive Pinkalicious and Peteriffic costumes.

“Community Begins Here is core to Kiddie Academy’s purpose to serve,” said Helwig. “While we’re fortunate to have grown to over 200 academies nationwide, our company remains committed to building and strengthening the communities in which we live and work, including right here at home in Harford County.”

“We are honored to be a part of this community—it’s been a part of our history and contributor to Kiddie Academy’s success,” said Miller, a Harford County resident.

Kiddie Academy established its first location in 1981, and operates both its corporate headquarters and flagship Academy in Abingdon.

Kiddie Academy provides education-based child care for families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care, and summer camp programs.

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