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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Dr. Sonal Subbu is Yuma’s 2017 Champion for Young Children

Dr. Sonal Subbu has been selected as the 2017 Yuma First Things First Champion for Young Children.

The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with FTF and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.

Subbu engaged in awareness-raising efforts such as:

  • Hosting an early literacy site tour in her medical office.
  • Providing awareness of the importance of early literacy with the families and their young children.
  • Disseminating age appropriate books to children and providing them with early literacy materials.
  • Serving on a champion panelist at the FTF State Board site tour hosted in Yuma to highlight early literacy.

We recently caught up with Subbu, who is a pediatrician.

Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is so important?

Answer: I was born in India to a large family. We were poor and the one thing my parents said they would make sure we had was an education. They made many sacrifices to make sure we went to school and received a degree. This is why I know that when a child has the experience of a quality early childhood education and has been exposed to different learning tools they will prepared and ready to start school. Knowing that 90 percent of the brain develops in the first 5 years tells us we need to start teaching them at birth.

Q: What caused you to get involved in efforts to increase public awareness in early childhood issues?

A: I am what I am because of my education. I am the example of what good books can do for us. As a parent, I always wanted better for my children, and I am making sure they have access to quality education. This is why I make sure when children come in for their well-child visits, it is a good time to talk with the parents about the importance of early literacy skills. My staff and I educate parents on the benefits of reading to their children every day, brain development, small motor skills, vocabulary skills and parent-child bonding.

Q: Why do you feel building awareness in early childhood and developmental health is so important for families and communities?

A: Education is key to the economic growth of the Yuma community. Many families in the community cannot afford to purchase a book for their children. We need to provide young children with a book and put them on the path to their education.

Q: How have you seen awareness for the early years change in your community?

A: Over the years I’ve seen improved awareness by First Things First and Reach Out and Read. They’re spreading the word about the importance of early childhood and it continues to grow. I am very supportive of education and we need to continue providing the awareness to families with young children.

Q: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?

A: As a doctor, we cannot only take care of the health of our Yuma children, but we also need help young children to prepare for their future. Join the council, provide awareness on literacy, get involved in local campaigns (book drives) to ensure our youngest learners have books.

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