Newsletter November – December 2013

First 5 San Diego
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First 5 Commission of San Diego

Supervisor Ron Roberts, Chair
Carol Skiljan, Vice Chair
Sandra McBrayer
Wilma J. Wooten, MD, MPH
Nick Macchione, MS, MPH, FACHE

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Kim Medeiros
The Director’s Corner
Kim Medeiros

Holiday celebrations are fast approaching and this year First 5 San Diego has reason to celebrate. Fifteen years ago this month, voters approved Proposition 10, The California Children and Families Act, affirming their support for a guaranteed revenue stream dedicated to the benefit of young children. The Children and Family Commissions across the state, now known as First 5, were charged with investing in local solutions to improve the lives of young children during the most critical stages of brain development – prenatal through age 5. Fifteen years later, we have achieved great results and we continue to celebrate our accomplishments!

I am pleased to report that during FY 2012-13 we invested $48.6 million in direct services for young children and their families. With these funds we were able to serve more than 88,000 children, parents, caregivers and providers. Thanks to our Commissioners, First 5 San Diego staff and each of our community partners, without whom the work could not happen, we are achieving our vision that “All children ages 0 through 5 are healthy, loved and nurtured, and enter school as active learners.” I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments and look forward to the future!

Happy Holidays from all of us at First 5 San Diego!

Kim Medeiros

Pediatrician’s Corner
November – Family Literacy Month

Pediatrician’s Corner
December – Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

Pediatrician’s Corner
Dr. Pradeep Gidwani, MD, MPH.

Pediatrician’s Corner

November – Family Literacy Month

November is Family Literacy Month. In the past, many people believed that children learned to read and write in kindergarten or first grade. Now, parents and professionals are aware that early childhood literacy is a key to a success in the classroom and into adulthood. Children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.

You can start talking, singing, and reading with your child as a baby. Even though your baby can’t read, he’ll get the idea that books are fun and reading is a fun activity you share together. Here are a few tips for your reading routine:

  1. Repetition is good — it helps a child build important language skills.
  2. Reading doesn’t have to be a huge project. Just a 3-minute story every night before bed will help get your child interested in reading and allows you to connect.
  3. Board books and soft books are good for infants to get used to holding a book in their hands — and enjoying the experience.
  4. As your child grows, help him pick books that are age and reading level appropriate.
  5. Make reading and reading together fun. We all love good stories.

December – Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

As the holidays approach, children and their parents get excited about new toys. December is Safe Toy and Gift Month. 

Children can have a lot of fun playing with their toys and it is always important to remember that safety comes first. Each year thousands of children are injured by toys.

Most injuries from toys are minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, toys can cause serious injury or even death. This happens when toys are dangerous or used in the wrong way.

For more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, please see our website for parents called Here is a link to our Holiday Safety page with a section on safe toys. Also, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is another great resource. They have safety guides by age. Here is a link to their guide for children 0-5.  

Wishing you and your family happy holidays from the local Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics!

Dr. Pradeep Gidwani, MD, MPH
Medical Director
Healthy Development Services/First 5 First Steps
American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3 (AAP-CA3)

First 5 San Diego Partners with the San Diego Food Bank

First 5 San Diego Partners with the San Diego Food Bank

The negative impact of hunger can be seen in every community, across all racial and gender categories and throughout all age groups. In San Diego County, 462,000 people live in poverty. Of this number, 137,000 are children and 40,834 are aged between 0 and 5. Poverty is a condition that almost always equals missed meals, poor school performance and nutrition-related illness such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Both First 5 San Diego and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank are addressing the nutrition-related challenges of mothers and young children in San Diego County. Together, our organizations are significantly enhancing the quality of life for local children affected by their family’s difficult economic situation.

The Food Bank serves 320,000 people each month through a variety of distribution methods and hunger-relief activities. In FY 2012-13, the Food Bank distributed nearly 20 million pounds of food equal to more than 16.6 million meals. Of that 20 million, 7.1 million pounds were fresh fruits and vegetables.

Several of the Food Bank’s community partners such as Stand Up For Kids, Family Care Foundation, Mira Mesa Christian Pre-School and Klassic Kids, focus on young children and families. A wonderful example of the joint work being done for these populations is Birthline. This local community organization, which the Food Bank provides with food, exists for the sole purpose of assisting pregnant women and women with small children. Birthline has two locations in San Diego County and offers an emergency food pantry on site with supplies such as diapers, formula, baby food and adult food, as well.

3660 Clairemont Dr. Suite 4
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 270-2491
Mon.: 10am-1pm & 5pm-8pm
Tues., Wed., Fri.: 10am-1pm
Thurs.: 10am-4pm

1220 Third Avenue #1
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 425-5012
Monday-Friday: 9am-12pm
Tuesday: 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm

First 5 San Diego is proud to partner with the San Diego Food Bank’s Holiday Food Drive urging the community to support the vulnerable population of children ages 0 to 5 and their families in San Diego County.

To donate, drop off nonperishable food items at the Food Bank’s red donation barrels at your local Vons store. Or you can make a donation here.

First 5 San Diego and Text4baby Team Up for Healthy Moms and Babies

First 5 San Diego and Text4baby Team Up for Healthy Moms and Babies

For first-time parents, navigating through pregnancy and parenting resources to determine what is best for your baby isn’t easy. This was the original idea behind text4baby, a nationwide program that sends participants three free text messages per week, specifically tailored to the stage of pregnancy or parenting the family is in based on the baby’s expected due date. Messages feature content such as immunization reminders, information about the benefits of full-term delivery, and newborn oral and physical health tips.

First 5 San Diego is proud to team up with text4baby to provide time-sensitive parenting information in a fun and practical way. As of October 2013, participants in our new First 5 First Steps program are offered assistance in signing up for text4baby as part of the program’s registration process.

Parents who are not involved in First 5 First Steps can subscribe to text4baby by visiting Text4Baby’s website or by texting BABY (BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.

Healthier Holiday Treats

Healthier Holiday Treats

Healthier Holiday Treats

Winter can be a tough season to stay focused on healthy eating, as the holidays tend to revolve around hearty family meals and special sugary treats. Involving your toddler or preschooler in holiday cooking is a great way to bond with them, and can promote healthy eating as well if you find the right recipes.

The following recipes will point you in the right direction for healthy holiday cooking with your young ones:

Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies (adapted from


1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg white
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract


2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions: Cookies-whisk together flour, whole-wheat flower, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Beat butter and sugars together in a different medium bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, then add egg white and vanilla and almond extracts to the mixture. Slowly pour the powder mixture into the liquid mixture, mix thoroughly, then put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust a countertop with flour so the dough doesn’t stick to it, then roll the dough out into a layer about ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters or your imagination to create holiday themed shapes, then bake for about 12 minutes, until cookies are set but not browned. Icing-whisk together all of the icing ingredients in a large bowl until it’s completely smooth. Add more sugar if it seems too thin, and more lemon juice if it seems too thick. Spread it on your festive cookies and serve them to your family.

Holiday Tree Salad (adapted from


Green pear
Celery sticks
Red apple
Carrot slice
Coconut (optional)
A few colorful candies

Directions: Cut the pear in half and shave off the edges to form the tree trunk, leaving the peel on. Cut a piece of apple into the form of a flower pot. Cut the celery into thin strips to make the tree branches. Cut a basic bird shape out of a piece of carrot to put on top of the tree. Assemble the tree on a plate, using carrot bits and/or a few colorful candies as ornaments. If you have shredded coconut, spread it along the bottom as the “snow” on the ground. Your child is sure to have fun eating this fun and healthy treat!

Safe Traveling

Safe Traveling

Plane, train, or automobile-whichever one you choose as your mode of transportation this holiday season, be sure to keep your baby’s safety in mind. Cars and planes can be particularly risky and uncomfortable for you and your child if you travel unprepared.

The most important thing you can do to reduce your child’s risk in a car is to seat them in an age and weight appropriate car seat at all times, and make sure the seat is secured tightly and properly in the correct location and position.

The California Office of Transportation Safety recommends the following 4 step progression for what type of car seat to put your child in:

  1. Children should go in a rear facing car seat in the back seat of your car until they reach 1 year of age or weigh over 20 pounds.
  2. Between ages 1 and 4, or 20-40 pounds they should sit in a forward facing car seat appropriate for their age and weight according to the product label, to remain in the back seat of the vehicle.
  3. After they turn 4 years old or weigh over 40 pounds they should sit in a booster seat in the back seat until the seatbelt fits them properly (usually around age 8 or 4’9” tall).
  4. Once the seatbelt fits them properly they should remain in the backseat in an adult seatbelt until they reach 13 years of age.

Seats for your baby are also important to consider when you are flying by plane. Most airlines will allow you to fly with your infant without purchasing them a ticket, thereby leaving you responsible for holding them tight on your lap. This is not the safest option, however, as unexpected turbulence can distract you from keeping your baby secure. The best way to protect your infant if you cannot buy them a seat is to secure them to yourself using a child safety restraint system (CRS).  If you are able to purchase an extra seat (oftentimes at a discounted rate), bring a baby seat that is marked as “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

For more information on driving and flying safely with your child, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  and Federal Aviation Administration child safety websites.

Best Start at Sharp to Provide Breastfeeding Education for New Mothers

Best Start at Sharp to Provide Breastfeeding Education for New Mothers
A $689,000 grant from First 5 San Diego will train all Sharp perinatal nurses to promote and instruct exclusive breastfeeding.

The new Best Start at Sharp initiative will provide evidence-based breastfeeding education to every nurse involved in perinatal care at Sharp HealthCare’s hospitals, allowing them to share the many benefits of exclusive breastfeeding with new mothers.

Funded by First 5 San Diego, Best Start at Sharp will be launched at all three of Sharp’s birthing hospitals — Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. The $689,170 grant award to Sharp HealthCare Foundation will allow 20 hours of breastfeeding education for every nurse providing maternal-newborn services.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers and research demonstrates that the hospital experience strongly influences a mother’s ability to start and continue breastfeeding.

“As the birthplace of 15,000 newborns a year, or nearly 40 percent of all children born in San Diego County, Sharp HealthCare is committed to giving babies born in our hospitals their best possible start in life,” said Dan Gross, executive vice president of Sharp HealthCare. “The Best Start at Sharp program will work to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates by educating mothers on the nutritional, developmental, infection-fighting, emotional and environmental benefits of breastfeeding and will be another major step toward our goal of achieving the Baby-Friendly designation from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. We thank First 5 San Diego for their continued partnership and support.”

“We are pleased to partner with Sharp HealthCare for the Best Start at Sharp initiative,” said Kimberly Medeiros, executive director of First 5 San Diego. “By promoting exclusive breastfeeding, this initiative will help improve the health and well being of San Diego babies as more mothers are encouraged to provide them with the healthiest first food.”

Nurse training began in October 2013 and will be deployed over a two-year period. Once complete, more than 700 nurses who care for mothers and newborns across the Sharp HealthCare system will be equipped to promote and educate on exclusive breastfeeding to further benefit the health and well being of families in the San Diego community.

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

Community Events

First 5 San Diego participated in a variety of events in September and October. Our interactive booth offers fun activities for children including bean bag toss, hula hooping, coloring station, and a MyPlate activity to learn about nutrition. First 5 also offers program information and resources, and hands out giveaways such as cookbooks, Kits for New Parents, Potter the Otter and It’s Picnic Day Potter books, MyPlate portioned plates, 5210 Every Day! water bottles, Daddy’s Tool Bag DVDs, and Sesame Street dental kits.

Descanso Library’s Story Time with First 5 California

First 5 San Diego partnered with First 5 California on Tuesday, September 3rd to hand out Potter the Otter, It’s Picnic Day Potter books, bookmarks, pencils, and bags to children at the Descanso Library.

Kids Care Fest

First 5 San Diego was pleased to participate in Kids Care Fest 2013 on Saturday, September 21st. The event, presented by the Grossmont Healthcare District and the City of La Mesa, is a free interactive health and activity day held annually for children in the East County. An information and health care fair, by area service providers, provided children and families with access to health care information and offered health screenings. The event included children’s activities, pony rides, children’s fingerprinting, and activities about fire and water safety.

San Diego Central Library Street Fair/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On September 28th, San Diego’s new Central Library was dedicated in front of thousands of area residents during its grand opening ceremony in Downtown San Diego.  The library opened its doors for a special sneak peek event that began with a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. Following the ceremony, a street festival and library tours took place until 6 p.m.

Live it Up!

On Saturday, October 25, 2013, the County of San Diego Filipino-American Employees Association and San Diego County Latino Association hosted the Live It Up event at the Vista Library in North County to support Live Well San Diego, the County’s initiative to achieve the vision of healthy, safe and thriving communities. The event had free cooking demos, health and wellness screenings, healthy snacks, children’s crafts, dance performances, and other healthy activities.

San Diego Kids Expo & Fair

First 5 San Diego was pleased to participate at the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair on Saturday and Sunday, October 19th & 20th at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event featured plenty of adventures over two days, including bounce houses, a zip line, human hamster wheels and a gymnastics bus for toddlers. There were also toy, nutrition, sports and safety exhibit booths, as well as music and dance performances, craft demonstrations, food booths, parents’ lounge and lots more.

Live Well in Action Fair

On Tuesday, October 22nd, the County of San Diego presented a free health and safety fair featuring County departments and community organizations that have signed on as official Live Well San Diego partners. The event took place at the County’s Administration Center and included information and resource booths, giveaways, screenings, and demonstrations.

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First 5 High Fives
First 5 San Diego Congratulates Kristin Gist on Receiving the Richard Thurman Award

Kristin Gist, Senior Director of Developmental Services at Rady Children’s Hospital, was presented with the Richard Thurman Award on October 31, 2013 at the 16th Annual Meeting of the Minds, the behavioral health conference hosted by Mental Health America of San Diego County. The Richard Thurman Award is given to an individual who has provided significant contributions to the integrated fields of special education, child development, and mental health.

Ms. Gist accepted this award in front of approximately 500 conference attendees. “I am truly humbled by this award,” stated Ms. Gist as part of her acceptance speech. “For many young children and their caregivers, we now have an opportunity and the skills and programs to change their life experience, which has started with challenges, to avoid mental health concerns that they surely would have faced.”

Congratulations Kristin!

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Upcoming Community Events

Sharp Women’s Health Conference
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina
1380 Harbor Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Click here

CDA Cares
Saturday and Sunday, December 7 & 8, 2013
Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
Click here

Add Your Event to Our Website

Our website features an enhanced community calendar. Do you have a community event that you would like to add to the First 5 San Diego calendar? If your event focuses on children ages 0-5, parents, caregivers and/or expectant parents, offered at no or low cost, and sponsored by a non-profit organization, we want to share your event. Fill out our Community Event Listing Request Form.

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