ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County’s Building Healthy Families has received national recognition by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as a “2021 Bright Spot” for its responses to the coronavirus crisis last year, according to a press release.
The campaign is highlighting communities that developed exemplary or innovative responses to the coronavirus crisis. The campaign is recognizing communities for crafting solutions that seem especially effective, replication-worthy and/or deserving of being sustained during the post-coronavirus period.
“This has been a very challenging time to serve families and children in Wallowa County,” said Maria Weer, BHF executive director. “Many of our usual activities have had to be reformatted because of COVID-19. We’re thankful that our community partners have partnered with us to make our ‘to-go’ activities so successful.”
BHF has been active by partnering with local libraries to provide “Story Time To-Go” bags at the Enterprise and Wallowa libraries. New bags are provided each week — and are available for pickup in the lobbies of the libraries — where preordered library books also are available. Each bag has a new book for kids to keep, and an early literacy activity such as Playdough with activities to go with it.
“Story Time To-Go is still happening in the county as libraries are opening back up,” said Autumn Wilburn, special projects coordinator for BHF.
The Washington, D.C.-based campaign recognized similar programs from across the country, Wilburn said.
She said that although the recognition comes with no tangible award, it has its value.
“It earns us ‘bragging rights’ and will help us with grants we apply for,” Wilburn said.
The campaign is a collaborative effort by funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The campaign focuses on promoting early school success as an important building block of more-hopeful futures for children in economically challenged families and communities, the press release stated.
While BHF is known for its alternative high school, most of its work is with younger children, Wilburn said, including early literacy, Head Start, kindergarten readiness and K-3 family STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“The majority of our work is focused on the younger set,” she said.