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Foundation’s newest grant vital

Everyone knows that factors like nutrition, physical activity, smoking and similar health behaviors have a significant effect on a person’s health.

After all, it’s common sense. How you treat your body influences how your body treats you.

But fewer people know that there are some health factors that individuals can’t control. Things like their environment, their access to care, and even the safety of their community can affect a person’s health.

Also big factors — education, employment and income, which are inextricably tied together. And education, researchers are learning more and more, begins at birth, not when a child finally enters kindergarten at age 5 or 6. That’s when they start learning academic topics, but the connections in their brain, their social skills, their powers of self-regulation are all formed before they get to school.

The amount of, and quality of, interaction that very young children get influences their brain development. That’s why quality early childhood education is so important to help children get ready for kindergarten and subsequent grades.

That’s why a new investment by the Obici Healthcare Foundation, announced this Wednesday, is so important for Suffolk and Western Tidewater.

The foundation announced a $1 million grant that will fund teacher training, curriculum and a pilot preschool extension of the state’s Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program in the Suffolk and Western Tidewater areas. In all, 66 preschool classrooms in public, private, faith-based and Head Start institutions across the area will be able to have this special training and curriculum, while only 50 classrooms throughout the entire rest of the state will have it.

With a better start in education, many people throughout this area will have better future earnings potential and therefore better health due to this grant.

This area is very fortunate indeed to have the Obici Healthcare Foundation, which has for years been granting funds to organizations working to improve access to care, provide educational programs on nutrition and physical activity, and more.

By tackling the area of early childhood education, the foundation is setting a new precedent for itself and truly having an effect at the start of people’s health journey.