Local students graduate from Imagination Library at Dayton Dragons game

Visit to game featured graduation ceremony for participants of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio.

A nearly month-long program by the Dayton Dragons organization to encourage young children to read books culminated Sunday with a celebration of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio.

Dayton Dragons home games last week were dedicated to supporting the program, which provides free books to children each month until their fifth birthday. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio receives financial support from the state and is largely supported by Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine.

“It was a really fun and a very enjoyable day at the Dayton Dragons game,” said Catherine Sulecki, director of marketing and communications for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio.

The Dayton Dragons promoted the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio throughout the Day Air Ballpark, including with an enrollment table by the front gate.

“That table was staffed by the Dayton Children’s Hospital and the Altrusa Club of Dayton,” Sulecki said. Dayton Children’s and Altrusa are local partners for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio. Those volunteers helped provide information to families coming to Sunday’s Dayton Dragons game on how they could sign their kids up for the program.

Montgomery County currently has an enrollment rate of over 46% of children of five years and younger.

Fran DeWine is a supporter of the Imagination Library program, which began in Ohio as the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library in 2019. In November 2020, the program moved from only being available in some counties to being available in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. In July of this year, the program transitioned its name from the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio.

Fran, along with Gov. Mike DeWine, stopped by the Dayton Dragons game Sunday to show support to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, as well as to help a handful of local children graduate out of the program.

The Dayton Dragons had approximately nine local kids participate in a miniature graduation ceremony to recognize their participation in the program, as well as to celebrate those kids starting kindergarten soon.

“Mrs. DeWine congratulated them on being avid readers,” Sulecki said.

The Dragons Foundation also presented a check of $1,000 that will be put toward the cost of books in the program, ensuring the program remains free for families, Sulecki said.

Between July 22 and Aug.14, the Dragons provided books with first-game certificates for first time Dragons fans under the age of five while supplies lasted, as well as bookmarks that allowed parents or guardians to directly sign their children up for the program. On Sunday, Aug. 14, the Dayton Dragons also celebrated the Imagination Library program with a first pitch in addition to the other promotions.

“We had a ton of fun,” Sulecki said.

Currently, 343,490 children are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, which means 48% of eligible children between birth to age five years old are enrolled in the program, according to the governor’s office.

“Ohio’s Imagination Library is thriving, and we are truly blessed to have so many supporters of the program in every community across our great state. These books are changing the lives of so many children and preparing them for kindergarten—and life,” Fran DeWine said in a release.

In 1995, Parton created Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for children living in Sevier County, Tenn., and the program has since expanded nationally and internationally.

For more information on Ohio’s program, visit ohioimaginationlibrary.org.

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