Teens from the Clinton County Youth Council program, under the direction of Mary Beth Thorngren at the Thorngren Studio Arts in Wilmington, have been busy. Recently they created two quilt squares marking the Imagination Library program reaching its goal of establishing an Imagination program in every Ohio community.
The Clinton County quilt squares will be sewn with other Ohio counties’ representations to create two quilts — one for the Imagination Library’s founder, Dolly Parton, and one for the leader of the Ohio initiative, First Lady of Ohio Fran DeWine.
A year-and-a-half ago, Fran DeWine made a pledge to build Imagination Library programs in every Ohio county. She and Gov. Mike DeWine strongly supported the free book program for preschool children and families that was available in some of Ohio’s communities, but not all. The DeWine grandchildren were recipients of the Imagination Library books and they saw eyes light up when a new book came in the mail each month.
The program has made significant, proven improvements in school readiness for preschool children. In one Ohio community, kindergarten readiness scores jumped 20 percent.
When Ms. DeWine made the commitment to establish the Ohio reading initiative, Dolly Parton promised to celebrate with the First Lady when our state had reached the goal of every Ohio family being able to enroll in the preschool program.
The state’s Imagination program wanted to mark this moment with quilt squares from every Imagination Library program. They reached out to the Clinton County program and the Youth Council was selected to create something beautiful that symbolized our county.
In March 2020, Ms. DeWine came to Clinton County to kickstart the program with the generous support of corporate sponsor ATSG, a family-oriented organization. The founder of ATSG, Joe Hete, and his wife Carrie, remember fondly the times spent reading to their own children and believe in this Clinton County program to elevate reading readiness.
All of the Clinton County public libraries became partners and enrollment sites for the program. The Clinton County Foundation joined the effort to do what they do best — ensure the financial sustainability of the charitable program.
“Ms. Thorngren and the Youth Council provided creative classes in the summer for teens,” said Jan Blohm, executive director at the Clinton County Foundation. “They were tasked with the Imagination Library quilts project to design two quilt squares that represented our County. One quilt honors Dolly and her program, the other celebrates the Ohio program, symbolized by Clinton County and Mrs. DeWine.”
“I love both of these squares. One depicts the county with the very first book each Imagination Library child receives, ‘The Little Engine that Could’, with a Clinton County ‘corn’ theme. The other square is all about Dolly and I bet she loves it,” said Blohm. “Mary Beth and the kids from the Youth Council should be super proud of their work.”
Parents or guardians with preschool children can enroll in the free program by visiting their local Clinton County library.
Anyone can make a $25 gift to the program, ensuring that one Clinton County child receives Imagination Library books for a year. Gifts can be made online at www.clintoncountyohiofoundation.org or by mailing checks to the Clinton County Foundation, PO Box 831, Wilmington, OH 45177.
“To keep this program going, we need everyone to make a gift to sponsor a child,” said Blohm. “This is a great way to honor someone’s birthday or an anniversary, or when someone passes. Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate them by ensuring that a Clinton County child is surprised monthly with a new book?”