This program is bringing literacy to schools in Hampton Roads

(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

NORFOLK — Two elementary schools here will be part of Optima Health’s reading program that will be touring the region from late-January to mid-February.

Starting Jan. 23 at 9:30 a.m. at Lindenwood Elementary, Virginia-based Optima Health reading program will put on a popular puppet performance and offer a variety of literacy services for low-income children and adults, recognizing the positive effect that reading has on health and well being, according to a news release from Optima.

Optima said literacy plays a large role in improving the social determinants of health, including financial stability, food security, education, housing, transportation and access to quality health care.

The second Norfolk elementary school visit will be on Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. at Sewells Point Elementary School.

The other elementary schools the program will be visiting are in Portsmouth and Hampton.

The Optima Health reading program includes sponsorship of student tutoring and scholarships, payment for GED, screening for developmental delays and connecting members with resources, participation in back-to-school events, and placing children’s books in the home of every member household, as well as puppet performances that emphasize the joy of reading and provide a book for every child in attendance to take home, according to the news release.

Traci Massie, director of government programs at Optima Health, said, “Addressing the holistic well-being of our Medicaid members by targeting social determinants of health moves us closer to the heart of heath care. We’re Virginians caring for Virginians. So, we understand how the Optima Health reading program meets a real need to instill the love of reading and improve health outcomes in low-income families through literacy. Our puppet performances are perhaps the most visible aspect of the Optima Health reading program—but truly they’re just one important part of our multi-factorial effort to support all our members, at any age.”

The puppet program, which features Rainbow Puppet Productions, a well-established children’s theater company, has been developed just for Optima Health, a service of Sentara Healthcare.

They said through the shows, Optima Health will reach more than 38,000 children in 100 different locations such as public schools, public libraries, and community events in lower-income areas throughout Virginia over the coming months.

All performances are for enrolled students only.

To learn more about Optima Health and the programs they offer, click here.

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