April 29th, 2022
By Nicole Forsyth, President and CEO
RedRover’s new partnership with the Sacramento Native American Health Center (SNAHC) will develop and pilot an expanded version of the RedRover Readers program, called Early Ages Gathering to Learn Empathy through Stories (EAGLES). SNAHC aims to enhance quality of life by providing a culturally competent, holistic, and patient-centered continuum of care. SNAHC believes the social and emotional learning objectives in the RedRover Readers program align well with their health and wellbeing goals, and we share the values of empowering youth and elevating diverse voices.
The RedRover Readers team has begun working with the SNAHC staff, and with further input from the Native American Education Program and the American Indian Education (AIE) Program, we will select Native-centric children’s books and develop the curriculum. The Native American Education and AIE programs seek to identify the “unique educational and culturally related academic needs of Native American children.” Once books and curriculum have been reviewed and finalized, we will train SNAHC staff and older American Indian and Alaskan Native youth how to implement the RedRover Readers program using the new books and curriculum, seek feedback from participants, and make changes before launching the program on a wider scale.
The five new illustrated children’s books will be first selected using criteria developed by Oyate, a Native organization working to see that Native lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity. Books that fit the Oyate criteria will then be narrowed down using RedRover Readers criteria. The combined criteria includes, for example: appropriate for children ages 5 to 11; written by a Native author; depicts Indigenous people, culture, and language without stereotypes or oversimplification; shows accurate emotions and behaviors and a human-animal connection. The first book identified is called Goose Girl by Joe McLellan and Matrine McLellan.
In addition to these Native-centric books, we continue to seek additional books for the RedRover Readers program – books that help more children better see themselves in the stories and feel included in the conversation. Our aim is to add books that will also enhance social awareness and self-awareness in all students, helping them to ask questions about why diverse voices have been so often overlooked in human history and how much diversity adds to the richness of our understanding of the world and a deepening of our collective empathy and sense of connection.