Editor's Note: Beatriz Paniego-Béjar is a consultant for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and part of its Outreach Team Support. Currently, she is participating in the Virtual Public Innovators Lab of The Harwood Institute, learning to aspire to action.

Words shape the way we think, determine our mindset, define our outlook in life; and if there is an institution that has made me realize more and more about the importance of the words we use, that has been The Patterson Foundation (TPF).

It is not the same to say the word "enabling" as saying "engaging." It is not the same to say "outputs" and "outcomes." It is not the same to say "issues" and "aspirations" -- the importance of words and The Patterson Foundation's approach.

Thanks to the generosity of TPF, I am now learning more about all these notions through the Virtual Public Innovators Lab of The Harwood Institute, and week after week I keep on being dazzled.

I started working with TPF (please note the preposition "with," not "for" - the importance of words) almost two years ago, specifically with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) as part of the Outreach Team Support. It has taken almost this much time to fully grasp the impactful work SCGLR is doing in the community, simply because I didn't have the mindset to do so. I am now shaping a new mindset thanks to The Harwood Institute's lab.

Once I comprehended the actual meaning of the Campaign's effort -"to help all children, especially those from low-income families succeed in school by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade," once I realized how significant it is to focus on the outcomes, once I saw that this is truly a collaborative work, the words gained a new meaning, and a change in my outlook happened. The importance of words.

Now I am more confident in sharing with our families the work SCGLR does, because I know that change and improvements take time to happen, so we need to meet people where they are -another concept learned at The Harwood Institute Lab - and we need to start by planting a small seed that will grow and spread. Particularly in my role with the Campaign, one of those seeds is to share Vroom with our families, a free application that gives parents ideas of games they can play with their children 0 to 5 in any daily setting (while feeding them, while driving, while going for a walk, while doing chores, etc.), to develop their kids' brains, to build their vocabulary, to help them understand the world around them, creating "brain building moments."

This is one simple step. One simple step that will lead to prepared children ready to start Kindergarten -- eliminating the 30-million-word gap that exists between kids from low-income families and their more affluent counterparts by the age of 5. One simple step to give those children a better chance of staying on track to read by grade-level at third grade and continue their path to a successful life. One simple step. One small seed that will create a ripple effect. (Please follow this link to learn more about the work SCGLR does.)

The Harwood Institute approach has guided me to a deeper understanding, connection, and belief in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's effort in our community, simply by seizing the key words that define the Campaign's work - the importance of words. And this is only week three. I cannot wait to see what's ahead.

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