Justina Freedman, Niagara QIP mentor, prepares Book in a Box packages for mailing. The free program, a reimagined version of the in-person Books, Balls, and Blocks, was created for children from 4 months to 5 years old and offers an opportunity for parents to complete developmental screenings for their children. Each Book in a Box contains a developmentally appropriate book, large and fine motor activities that correspond with the story, an art activity with supplies, and early literacy activities. The program, which is funded by the United Way of Greater Niagara, has been offered by Niagara University’s Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement since fall 2020 as a way for families in the community to participate in the program while remaining safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 450 children have participated and more than 890 screenings have been completed. While the in-person Books, Balls, and Blocks events at Niagara County libraries and at Niagara University's Family Literacy Center will return, the successful Book in a Box will also continue to be available.

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