U.S. Senator Jack Reed joined health professionals and childhood literacy advocates from Reach Out and Read RI at the Chafee Health Center in Providence to celebrate President Obama signing Reed’s Prescribe a Book Act into law. Reed’s legislation creates federal grant opportunities for pediatric early literacy initiatives, authorizing competitive funding that could be used to help doctors and nurses provide low-income parents with a children’s book to take home at every wellness visit. This marks the first time a pediatric early literacy promotion initiative has been written into federal education policy.
The legislation authorizes funding for literacy programs that target at-risk children. This law builds upon the success of Reach Out and Read, an evidence-based organization that addresses the importance of reaching children in the first years of life by incorporating literacy promotion into pediatric care. Coupled with the measures the Senator added into the ESSA to support school libraries along with other literacy provisions, the new law contains an enhanced focus on helping young people read.
“Literacy is the foundation for learning. Developing and building these skills begins at home, with parents as the first teachers. That is the basis for the Prescribe a Book Act, and its inclusion in the Every Student Succeeds Act is an important step forward. Helping young people learn to read is one of the most important things in terms of setting them along the right path and helping them develop the skills they’ll need to be successful. This initiative empowers parents to help their kids and provides them with free books to get started,” said Senator Reed, the author of the bipartisan Prescribe a Book Act, which was cosponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Senator Reed stopped by East Greenwich High School to visit with student working groups and participate in the school’s “Choose2Matter” conference, a national movement that challenges students to work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions to social problems.
The conference presents an opportunity for students to work together to develop an action plan to address an issue that they want to change. Senator Reed will offer the student groups feedback as they develop their plans. Last year, the students tackled the issue of financial literacy and following their advocacy, Rhode Island adopted financial literacy standards and high schools in the state starting adding financial literacy course electives.
As part of an ongoing effort to combat veteran homelessness in Rhode Island, Senator Reed participated in a ceremonial ribbon cutting event at Veterans for Tomorrow (VFT) in Providence, a former mill that has been transformed into affordable rental homes for veterans who were recently homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Formerly known as the Heaton & Cowing Mill, built in 1832, it is one of the oldest surviving textile mills in Rhode Island. Prior to renovation, the building was vacant and boarded up, but now houses 20 affordable rental home apartments including an outdoor patio area, resident lounge areas, a laundry room, parking, and an employment training classroom.
Reed is the top Democrat on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, which distributes money for all federal housing projects. More than $2.7 million in federal funding was used to make the VFT project a reality.
Senator Reed was on hand at Colt-Andrews Elementary School in Bristol to help administer the “oath of office” to new student government leaders and offer remarks about leadership and civic responsibility at the inauguration ceremony.
The student government plans to focus its efforts this year on educating students about recycling and developing better recycling habits at school.
At Save the Bay, U.S. Senator Jack Reed was joined by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, along with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and community partners to announce new federal funding to benefit the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) for Coastal Watershed Restoration. The series of federal grants will contribute to the restoration, protection, and preservation of the Narragansett Bay Watershed and other surrounding watersheds in the southeast New England region.
Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led efforts to establish and fund the SNEP for Coastal Watershed Restoration by securing $2 million to launch it in fiscal year 2014 and including a total of $5 million in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus package.
“Restoration of our wetlands and freshwater rivers and streams is critical to the health of our coastal ecosystem and the resiliency of the Bay. Our waters connect and sustain us and collaboration is key to protecting our watershed. Unfortunately, pollutants and storm runoff don’t stop at the border’s edge. That is why I spearheaded this program: to bring people together – across communities and state lines – to take a strategic, scientific-based approach to protecting and improving the health of the Bay and our entire coastal watershed,” said Senator Reed.
Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are a significant health concern for many Rhode Islanders, particularly workers in outdoor occupations who have frequent exposure to tick-infested habitats. And now, just when most people think that tick season should be over for the year, adult blacklegged ticks begin their annual emergence and become exceptionally abundant across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and upper Mid-West regions according to experts at TickEncounter.org.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Dr. Tom Mather, University of Rhode Island (URI) Professor of Public Health Entomology, announced a new federal grant award worth $2,039,000 over four years to study Lyme disease prevention and exposure among outdoor workers.
The federal funding is made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which works to prevent workplace illnesses and injuries. The grant will provide approximately $240,000 in direct funding annually for URI over the next four years to field test the effectiveness of long lasting permethrin-impregnated (LLPI) clothing in outdoor workers. Permethrin is an active ingredient that is lethal for ticks but is recommended for certain human uses, and in the amounts found in clothing, should not harm the environment if used appropriately. Clothes treated with permethrin are commercially available at many outdoor retailers and when used regularly, could play a critical role in reducing tick bites and disease in people that spend a significant about of time in tick habitat. URI scientists are collaborating with a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) on the study, which will use clothing made by a North Carolina company.
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