Newsbriefs January 9

by Laura Turner

Santa Fe, N.M. Launches Books for Babies Program

To stress the importance of reading to children, the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, in partnership with the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation, has launched Books for Babies New Mexico.

Beginning with the first baby of the new year, every child born in the hospital is going home with a brightly colored canvas bag containing a book, compact disc (CD) of lullabies, innovative die-cut brochure on the importance of reading to babies (which can be folded into a box), application for a library card and information on community resources.

"I Read to My Baby Every Day" is printed on the side of the bags. An estimated 1,600 babies will receive the gift bag and their first book in 2012.

The project was suggested by a local children's author and is based on a similar program in San Antonio.

Students in a graphic design class at Santa Fe University of Art and Design created the logo and designed the brochure. Local businesses did the imprinting of the bags and created the brochures.

The lullaby CD, by a New Mexico singer, was produced in cooperation with the Santa Fe County Maternal and Child Health Planning Council under a federal grant administered by the New Mexico Department of Health.

Books for Babies New Mexico ties in with other local efforts to promote early literacy, including a program at two library branches. The hope is to expand the program to other communities, eventually going statewide.

Details: Director of Libraries Patricia Hodapp at (505) 955-6788 or

Boston Addresses Smoking in City Parks

Boston has joined a growing list of cities and towns nationwide that are addressing smoking in tot lots of city parks in an attempt to eliminate a source of secondhand smoke that children are exposed to outdoors.

Signs warning "Children at Play, No Smoking" are being posted in 130 tot lots operated by the parks department, giving parents and caregivers - who frequently lodge complaints to the public health commission about smoking in public spaces where children play - a tool to fight back.

There is no change to city ordinances or fines associated with the initiative; rather, the signs are intended to give residents the power to speak up when people light up.

"I know that nothing we put on the law books could be as strong as a parent who is trying to protect their kids from secondhand smoke and cigarette debris," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino during the October 28 announcement at Peter Looney Park. "The new signs will give parents the standing to ask smokers to move away from areas where children are at play."

Boston's workplace smoking ban already restricts smoking in some outdoor areas that are considered workplaces, including patios, decks and loading docks that are occupied by employees during the work day. The parks department signage is the city's first effort to temper secondhand smoke in tot lots.

The Boston Public Health Commission paid for the signs with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Putting Prevention to Work initiative.

Details: Mayor's Press Office at (617) 635-4461.