Basic literacy and patient engagement are linked in many ways. A skilled reader can make better use of patient education materials. A habitual reader and learner is more disposed to deeper habits of self-care, leading in turn to healthier behaviors. These connections contribute to my deep respect and appreciation for an initiative called the Blake Mini Library.
At a young seven years old, Blake Ansari is taking enormous strides in making books available to homeless children. He has pledged to ensure that access to books spurs lifelong learning to an at-risk population through early exposure to literature.
So far this year, on Valentine’s Day 2015, Blake over 5,000 books along with a four-foot tall rainbow-colored “Blake Mini Library” to homeless children living at Women In Need Glenwood shelter in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of six, he became the United States’s “youngest philanthropist.” Blake received the “Kohl’s Cares Regional Philanthropist Award” from Kohl’s Department Stores for his 2014 Valentine’s Day gift of over 600 books to The PATH Center, located in The Bronx New York. His philanthropy has been featured in the Ellen DeGeneres Good News Blog, The Atlantic, and Charter For Compassion. He is currently a nominee for The National Book Foundation’s 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize.
Beyond my appreciation for the initiative, I see it as helping grow healthier populations, by supporting a segment of children who already face challenges that could affect their lifelong health. While there is no single solution to homelessness or its impacts, efforts like the Blake Mini Library are part of what it takes to make a difference.
(Photo by Bob Gore)