LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WOWK) — 3,800 children are now eligible to be a part of a new program in Lawrence County, which state leaders hope to bring to all 88 counties in Ohio.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine says child education is her priority. “I just looked around at all the different things I want to do. I care about kids and I thought, ‘this is one thing that can make a difference in their lives,'” said DeWine.
DeWine spent Monday, February 3, 2020, reading to children in Lawrence County. She would later go to Gallia and Meigs counties. Inspired, and in partnership, with “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” the “Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library” (OGIL) aims to get every child in Ohio, regardless of family income status, a free book every month from the time they are born until they turn 5 years old.
“I read to my kids, even while they were in the womb,” said Kim Pulley who is a grandmother of 5 children living in Lawrence County. “I’ve always read to my children, and I’ve got 4 smart, productive children in society, and I attribute part of that to reading to them when they were in their youth.”
DeWine says this program is imperative to education, as many families cannot get to a library due to distance or transportation issues. She also recognizes the challenges the opioid crisis has put on many families in our area. However, she says other family members can step up to the plate and make sure reading remains a priority.
“These kids love hearing stories, you can see that they’re eager to learn,” Dewine said. “We just need to take that opportunity to read to them, and it’s fun, and it develops bonds between the parents or the siblings and the child.”
Ohio’s First Lady adds she doesn’t want any stigmas to be associated with OGIL; that’s why it’s open to everyone in the county from the time they are born. With more than 50 counties already on board, DeWine hopes this becomes a state-wide effort by the end of the year.
To learn more, you can head on over to the OGIL website. There, you can also sign children up for the program.
The Ohio General Assembly committed $5 million dollars to OGIL for fiscal year 2020-2021. Each county adopting the program gets a dollar-for-dollar funding match.