Giant Step Forward for Council’s Early Childhood Work

The Bay Area Council’s ground-breaking work on early childhood development took a giant step forward last week with the announcement of a new partnership with national powerhouse Too Small to Fail. Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Sec. Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, July 23 to announce the partnership and unveil an innovative campaign — Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing — being rolled out in Oakland that many believe can become a national model for promoting brain development in children beginning at birth. The Bay Area Council developed the campaign, which is targeted to parents and caregivers, with renowned advertising firm Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

See overview video of the Talk Read Sign campaign.

The Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing campaign will reach thousands of Oakland families over the next several years and is focused on closing the “word gap“—a difference of about 30 million words that children in high-income families hear from parents and caregivers by their fourth birthday, compared to those in low-income families. Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based The Next Generation, embraced the campaign and saw its potential to reach a national audience.

With a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente, the Bay Area Council began working last year with Goodby Silverstein & Partners to develop the creative for the campaign, which includes television commercials and radio spots, prompts like “Let’s Talk About the Bus” on billboards and bus shelters around Oakland (donated by Clear Channel Outdoor), as well as a new clothing line for babies and toddlers developed by local apparel manufacturer Oaklandish. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland under the leadership of President and CEO Bert Lubin will serve as a primary channel for reaching parents.

See the Talking commercial.

See the Reading commercial.

See the Singing commercial.

The campaign highlights for parents how simple actions like describing objects seen during a bus ride, singing songs, reading aloud or telling stories can significantly improve babies’ ability to build vocabulary and boost their brain development. The fewer words children hear and learn, the more likely they are to experience an achievement gap, which persists through the preschool and kindergarten years and has a life-long impact on health and well-being. Parents and caregivers can help close the word gap by talking, reading and singing to their children from birth every day.

talkreadsingThe announcement and the innovative messaging campaign attracted global media attention, and was followed up on Thursday (July 24) with a “Baby Shower” hosted by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland where hundreds of families received clothing, blankets and books and were joined by performer José-Luis Orozco, storytellers, storybook characters and community leaders. Sec. Clinton expressed her hope that the Oakland campaign can be expanded to cities around the country.

“There’s no bigger difference we can make in children’s lives than stimulating their brains during the first five years,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of Bay Area Council. “We’re thrilled to partner with Too Small to Fail on this exciting campaign. The thousands of children that will benefit from ‘Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing’ could be the next Steve Jobs or Henry Kaiser, leading a new generation of invention, progress and prosperity.”

To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, contact Vice President Matt Regan.

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