For Hometown News
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Jeff Susi, president and CEO of Indian River Medical Center, proved his willingness to do whatever it takes to support Indian River County's goal of having 90 percent of all third-grade students reading on grade level by the year 2013.
Mr. Susi joined fellow medical professionals, Drs. Susie O'Toole and David Griffin, on a scaffold 30 feet in the air on Jan. 22 to paste the last of 50 posters featuring local elementary students on display outside the hospital for the next two weeks.
The effort is part of the public art campaign, "FACES: Help me read. It changes who WE become!" aimed at creating community conversations about the widespread impact literacy has in the community. The third grade literacy goal is being called Indian River County's "Moonshot Moment" and is considered a unique opportunity to impact the future.
"Each year about 1,200 babies get their start in life right here at Indian River Medical Center," said Mr. Susi. "It is a great opportunity to emphasize to families the important role literacy plays in the health and development of children starting at birth."
Literacy skills are a stronger predictor of an individual's health than almost any other statistic and annual health care costs for individuals with low literacy skills are four times higher than those with higher literacy skills.
During the paste-up event, Mr. Susi announced a special gift of 1,500 copies of the celebrated children's book, "Abigail the Snail."
Authors Michael and Beth Hofer and Literacy Services of Indian River County donated the books so that every baby born at the hospital would receive the gift of reading early in their life.
IRMC invites the community to help the cause by bringing gently used children's books through fifth grade reading level to the front entrance of the hospital and dropping them off in the magazine drop off through 5 p.m. on Feb. 8.