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WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center

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More Than Healthcare

WellStar Health System is Advancing Literacy in Georgia

According to the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, one in six Georgians has low literacy skills, and 63% of Georgia’s third graders are not reading on grade level.[i] That is why WellStar Health System, one of the largest and most integrated health systems in Georgia, is joining forces with the Rotary Clubs of Marietta, Smyrna and Atlanta-Brasil on a new community literacy initiative titled, “Legacy of Love and Learning.”

The new program was formally announced in November 2019 as the 100th anniversary celebration gift to the community from the Rotary Club of Marietta, Cobb County’s longest-running civic club. Candice Saunders, president and CEO of WellStar Health System, Dr. Avril Beckford, chief pediatric officer for WellStar Health System, Jeff Cooper, vice president of operations for WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center, and Raymond Coffman, chaplain with WellStar Health System and president of Rotary Club of Smyrna, attended the event.

“WellStar is honored to be a partner in this program and to work closely with local rotary clubs to serve our communities in meaningful ways,” said Cooper. “We – as health leaders – know that promoting early age literacy and fostering a love for reading can have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of children as they grow.”

As a not-for-profit health system, WellStar is not only focused on offering care when and where it matters most, but also to providing services that are more than healthcare. The new “Legacy of Love and Learning” program in partnership with local rotary clubs is a pivotal step toward improving children’s and families’ lives in Greater Atlanta and beyond by providing early access to books. Through this partnership, every baby born at WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in 2020 will receive a literacy packet with a baby book.

“Special thank you to Dr. Rivera, superintendent of Marietta City Schools, for bringing the underlying need for literacy programs to the attention of the Rotary Club of Marietta," said Cooper. “Thank you to everyone involved for stepping up to create and drive this amazing initiative that is sure to truly be a literacy legacy.”

WellStar’s passion for people extends beyond its system and into the communities it serves. Before creating new programs and services, WellStar takes a moment to pause…and listen…to important voices in the neighborhoods and communities it serves to ensure its initiatives are meeting the communities’ needs. In addition to this new collaboration with local rotary clubs, WellStar is also fostering a love for reading in local schools through an Early Literacy Program spearheaded by Dr. Beckford, and in close collaboration with partners in the community. The program meets children where they are—in their classrooms—to help them build the skills they need for a happier, healthier life.

[i] Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

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