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The two-year grant has ended that funded Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for Garvin County children, and Smart Start South Central is looking for local “champions” to keep the program going and the books coming to the youngsters.

Smart Start South Central (SSSC) provided the program through a grant from Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The Imagination Library has sent a free, age-appropriate book each month to any Garvin County child who registered, up to age 5. About 190 Garvin County children currently receive books in the mail once a month.

“We are very disappointed to see this program go away, but without funds, we cannot sustain it,” said Patricia Little, SSSC community coordinator. “It costs $28 per year to fund each child enrolled in the Imagination Library. Unfortunately, with the grant cycle at its end, there are no more funds to keep it in operation.”

Research has proved the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library helps give children the skills they need to start school ready to learn, Little said.

Smart Start South Central is an early childhood initiative housed in the Center of Continuing Education and Community Services at East Central University. For information about how to help the DPIL program continue, call 580-559-5367.

“Smart Start would like to thank Chesapeake Energy Corporation for their generous funding and commitment to the children of Garvin County,” Little said.  “We have been able to make tremendous progress with their support.”  

Through Chesapeake’s funding, SSSC has been able to increase awareness in Garvin County of the importance of children’s earliest years. Family Education Centers are now located in libraries in Lindsay, Maysville, Pauls Valley and Wynnewood.

Through child care quality improvement grants, child/home care centers have been able to improve the quality of child care with educational equipment and toys.  Selected centers have benefited from Strengthening Families training and family involvement activities as well as a take-home, book bag program at head starts. 

Literacy books for children have been distributed through child/home care centers and the Garvin County Health Department. Many children are traveling safer in vehicles through car seat safety inspection events, Little said.

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