First 5 Lex salutes Book Madness winner and community champions
First 5 Lex, a communitywide initiative that promotes school readiness, congratulated Lexington Fire Chief Kristin Chilton on winning its 2019 Book Madness. Her entry, which featured “Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes” and a couple dozen recruits, bested Liberty Elementary Principal Gerry Brooks and “The Velveteen Rabbit” in the finals of the video challenge, in which web viewers voted on their favorites. The final showdown reached nearly 30,000 people on social media and drew nearly 3,000 votes.
“I really had fun brainstorming and coming up with ideas,” Chilton said in accepting the trophy April 12 in the Lexington Public Library’s Farish Theater. “I’m putting out the challenge for next year. I can’t wait!”
First 5 Lex -- Read, Talk and Play from Cradle to Kindergarten -- was developed by Fayette County Public Schools in partnership with early childhood professionals. Fulfilling the district’s mission starts well before children enter school, and community supporters can help make the difference. Book Madness, which launched in 2018, is one of the latest efforts. “Our goal is getting the word out to the whole community about how critical a part they play in our children’s early brain development,” said Alice Nelson, coordinator of First 5 Lex. “The work is absolutely not done. There’s much more to come!”
This year’s Book Madness competitors also included defending champ Sharon Price of the Community Action Council, Shae Hopkins of KET, the University of Kentucky’s Wildcat mascot, Joe Ross of North Lime Donuts, Lexington Police, Superintendent Manny Caulk, Mayor Linda Gorton, Jeremy Kisling of Lexington Children’s Theatre, life coach Colene Elridge, comedian and radio personality Joe Deuce, and Lee Cruse and Hayley Harmon of WLEX18.
During the tournament, the First 5 Lex website saw its number of followers double, and several polls and posts reached more than 10,000 people. At the end of the day, the program’s success is measured by the number of people connecting with and ultimately implementing the “Read, Talk, Play” message.
At the April 12 gathering, First 5 Lex also added two more members to its list of Champions for their outstanding efforts. The first, WLEX, provided digital support in placing First 5 ads on their website throughout the March book challenge, plus Facebook posts on their news page and the “Live with Lee & Hayley” page. In addition, Cruse and Harmon both participated in Book Madness and talked about it on air on multiple occasions. Keith Farmer, the station’s evening sports anchor, accepted the Champions award on behalf of WLEX.
The second Champions honor went to Robert Lewis, ETV coordinator for the school district, for his enthusiasm and creativity in producing multiple promotional videos for First 5 Lex.