Carilion Clinic supports initiative to prepare Radford’s youngest for kindergarten

RADFORD – A new Radford City Public Schools program will enable more children to enter the classroom ready to learn, says Superintendent Rob Graham. The Kinder Camps program will be supported by Carilion Clinic and administered by United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA).

“Participation in a Kinder Camp will prepare our city’s children for success and ensure they start off on track to excel as students for years to come,” Graham says. “We’re excited to offer the next class of students this opportunity.”

Kinder Camps is a program to bring at-risk pre-K children into a school setting to provide them a chance to learn basic skills before their first day of kindergarten.

“Through Kinder Camps, these young children will have a chance to get acclimated to a school environment and learn important social skills,” says Travis Staton, president and CEO, UWSWVA. “They will interact with licensed teachers and engage in hands-on learning. So, when their first day of kindergarten arrives, they’ll be ahead of the game, not behind.”

“Kinder camps are an important first step,” says Michelle Greene, principal at McHarg Elementary School, “and we are grateful to Carilion Clinic for their commitment to serving the community in a way that will give children an advantage that can benefit them for years to come.”

Those benefits multiply over time, says Carilion Western Region Vice President Bill Flattery. “We know investments early in life have a high return. If we can give our young children a chance to enter kindergarten ready to learn through programs like Kinder Camps, we’ll help reduce the risk that children fall behind in later grades,” Flattery says. “That means they’ll be more likely to read at grade level by third grade, which in turn means they’ll be more likely to graduate high school and go on to get a higher-paying job. This is an investment Carilion Clinic is making in our community’s health and well-being long into the future.”

United Way of Southwest Virginia’s inaugural Kinder Camps programs were held last year in the cities of Bristol and Norton as well as Buchanan, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe counties.

After seeing the results of those camps, Carilion was ready to support the program for Radford in 2022, Flattery says. “These types of partnerships are exactly what help keep our community and children safe and healthy.”

Registration for Kinder Camps will begin March 20, and enrollment is open till the end of the current school year.

“If you would like to learn more about providing your children with a high-quality classroom experience designed to get them ready for an enhanced learning experience, please contact the central office for Radford Public Schools and ask about Kinder Camps,” says Susan Patrick, Ph.D., director of Childhood Success, United Way of Southwest Virginia.