JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – A baby’s first steps, a sweet smile or first words are among the milestones families will always cherish. Those treasured moments are just the beginning of so many dreams and new goals to achieve. Today, East Tennessee State University and Ballad Health held a news conference at Niswonger Children’s Hospital to announce a partnership that aims to create a foundation for the success of all children and their families across the Appalachian Highlands called Buccaneer Building Blocks.
The initiative is dedicated to developing a strong support system for lifelong learning, early childhood education and college access. Beginning in August, families of all newborn babies delivered at Ballad Health facilities will receive an information packet with resources for early college planning and an ETSU onesie highlighting Buccaneer pride to welcome them to the ETSU family.
“The Buccaneer Building Blocks program allows me to feel the same excitement of a new beginning, similar to my role as a women’s health nurse practitioner holding newborn babies after delivery – each one with a future full of bright possibilities and opportunities,” said ETSU’s first lady, Donna Noland. “This new beginning is not only filled with hope but also resources committed to providing lifelong support for children and families across the Appalachian Highlands.”
The ETSU family is committed to working with communities and key partners, like Ballad Health, to enact positive change that results in the improvement of the quality of life for people across the region and beyond.
Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of resources about early childhood education, developmental milestones and tips for families to invest in their children’s future through college access planning located on the Buccaneer Building Blocks website, etsu.edu/buildingblocks. Families will also find information about 529 College Savings programs for Tennessee and Virginia, monthly college savings gift card prizes to help jumpstart proactive planning options, health care resources and links to Dollywood’s Imagination Library.
Families across the region are encouraged, if they are comfortable doing so, to share pictures on social media of their babies wearing the “Cutest Buc” onesies and use the #CutestBuc hashtag.