OHSWEKEN – Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is about to roll into Six Nations thanks to a few local parents and a growing team of sponsors, contributors and volunteers.
The country music icon began the program in her Smokey Mountain home community of Sevier County, Tennessee in 1996 to help kids from birth to age five with pre-school literacy.
The plan was simple. Send an age-appropriate book to every enrolled child, free, to encourage parents to read to their young ones as early as possible.
Beyond that, it is a valuable opportunity for families to take time together focused on the upbringing of their children. Reading is the key to success and confidence for a youngster in very tangible ways.
After seeing the success her program had in her own community, Parton opened the program up to England, Australia and eventually in 2006 — to Canada.
Today the program boasts distributing 840,000 books per month world-wide.
There is no charge to register ones children in the program and receive monthly books absolutely free. The tab is picked up by sponsors. The average cost of the books, labeling and mailing is $3.55 per book, per month.
Ontario Director of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, Jeanne Smitiuch was on hand, along with the Six Nations Imagination Library volunteer committee Chairperson Holly Frank; Vice-Chair Misty Lad; Treasurer Abby Powless; Fundraiser Charlotte Maracle; Data Management Connie VanEvery; and Cole Squire for Marketing and Advertising.
The crew gathered at the Ohsweken Speedway to kick off the Six Nations program with its first two donations. Wayne Branchhaud, of Stepright Capital Planning, and Glenn Styres on behalf of his family and the Ohsweken Speedway each presented a cheque for $1000.
Those two donations alone will enroll 40 Six Nations preschoolers for one year. Six Nations has approximately 650 children eligible of enrolment. Also on hand was Sawehate Bomberry, daughter of Lindsay Bomberry, the first Six Nations child enrolled in the Imagination Library. She was given her very own copy of “The Little Engine that Could” which is Parton’s favourite book and the first every registered child will receive.
“Everybody needs to know how to read to move ahead in this world,” says Holly Frank. “Without that, you have nothing.”