Healthy Minds Mean Healthy Lives

Guest Blogger Chris Dobbins became Director of the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services on July 1 2013. Dobbins is a 20-year veteran of the US Air Force and is the former Health Director of the Gaston County Health Department.

Health departments throughout the country work diligently to help communities live healthful lives.  The Gaston County Department of Health in North Carolina is no exception.  Promoting fitness, encouraging healthy nutritional practices, preventing teen pregnancy and helping women during and after pregnancy are just some of the services we provide to promote overall well-being.

But, rarely do we have an opportunity to engage in primary prevention, activities that prevent the onset of poor health, that people both need and want.

Research shows children who do well in school are likely to achieve good lifelong health so we teamed up with First Book under the banner of Literacy is Health, in partnership with Gaston County Schools.

Earlier this year, we distributed a 40,000 books from First Book to nearly 2,000 public school teachers, recreation specialists, volunteers at church-based after-school programs, staff at day care centers, and our own employees.  Each of the books given to these individuals made its way into the hands of a child in need.  While getting books into the hands of children and seeing the smiles on their faces is its own reward, we were also able to provide primary prevention to our community.

Now, we’re working with community groups to prepare low-income parents to read to their children so they enter school ready and excited to learn.  We believe this will improve our county’s graduation rates, our residents’ prospects for employment and the health of our community. This is an opportunity our health department simply could not pass up – and one that many smiling children love.

If you serve kids in need in your community be sure to sign up with First Book today—I’m sure glad we did!

image of an educator reading to two kids from a picture book. There is text that says, 'Matching Challenge: Be a Champion for Educators! Your gift by May 31 can go twice as far to provide new, high-quality books and other resources educators need to help students unlock their full potential.' There is a red button in the bottom, right corner that says, 'I'll give now'.