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President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Cindy McCain And Senator Bill Frist Release Video Messages Urging Parents to Talk, Read and Sing to Children to Close Word Gap

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2014

Contact:

ANASTASIA ORDONEZ media@thenextgeneration.org 415-523-8017

MIMI REISNER mreisner@clintonfoundation.org 646-775-9124

Bipartisan Effort Builds on Momentum of National Too Small to Fail Initiative to Raise Awareness About Early Learning and Highlight Effective, Every Day Actions That Increase Vocabulary and Improve Social-Emotional Development

To watch the videos, go to www.toosmall.org; follow #closethewordgap on Twitter

In celebration of its one-year-anniversary, and in collaboration with the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy along with other bipartisan leaders, Too Small to Fail shared video messages last night from President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cindy McCain and Senator Bill Frist. Each video urges parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing to their young children every day in order to build vocabulary and help close the word gap. The videos include personal messages from the bipartisan leaders, and highlight the essential role that parents play in boosting their young children’s brains and vocabulary development with simple every day actions.

“We can be our children's first teachers using everyday moments – singing to them while pushing their stroller or telling them a story while they bathe – to build their brains and expand their vocabularies,” says Secretary Clinton in the video. “The simple truth is this: Talking is teaching. And parents have the power to unlock their babies' imaginations and open their minds so that they can better succeed later in life.”

“It’s not hard, and it doesn’t take any money. All it takes is a little love and a little time throughout the day to build talking, reading and singing into a parent’s daily routine,” says Cindy McCain in her video.

“Children's brains develop at a lightening fast pace when they're young,” says former Majority Leader and Senator Bill Frist, “We now know that 90% of a child's brain develops between birth and five years old. Long before most children step foot into a classroom, neurons are building networks, language is developing, and the foundation is being laid for a lifetime of learning.”

A blog post published on the White House website cites research about the word gap, and provides examples of various initiatives across the country, such as Too Small to Fail and the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words, to engage parents and communities in their children’s early learning.

The videos can be found on www.toosmall.org, and will be shared virally on social media networks. Additional videos from celebrities, community leaders, pediatricians and parents will be added to the site in coming months.

Too Small to Fail and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will host a convening this fall to continue to inspire private and public actions to close the word gap.

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About Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, aims to help parents, communities and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages zero to five, so that more of America’s children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. 

In 2014, Too Small to Fail is focusing its work on closing the “word gap.” Studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper income families hear 30 million more words than their lower income peers. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words. And that puts our children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Among those born in 2001, only 48 percent of poor children started school ready to learn, compared to 75 percent of children from middle-income families.

The “word gap” is a significant but solvable challenge. Too Small to Fail is about parents, caregivers, other concerned individuals, and the private sector coming together to take small, research-based actions with big impacts.

Learn more at www.toosmall.org and on Twitter @2SmalltoFail.

About The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.  Because of our work, 20,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 21,000 farmers in Malawi have improved their incomes by more than 500 percent; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; more than 6.8 million people have benefited from lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; $100 million in strategic investments have been made, impacting the health of 50 million people in the U.S.; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made nearly 2,800 Commitments to Action to improve more than 430 million lives around the world.

Learn more at www.clintonfoundation.org, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at www.thenextgeneration.org, and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.