Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

14. High Five

What: California's First Five campaign to improve the health and well-being of children up to age 5, funded by a 50-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes and passed by voters as Proposition 10 in 1998

Who: Actor/activist Rob Reiner, Tipper Gore, C. Everett Koop and former Calif. State Assemblyman Mike Roos

Impact: The First Five concept and the initiative it spawned have produced myriad health and welfare programs throughout California and elsewhere. A quick Google search of the term "child development first five years" nets several million citations, including programs at NYU, Yale, the Boston Public Library and the Benevolent Society in Australia. In the 1990s, writer/director/actor Reiner took up early-years children's health as an issue along with well-placed allies like Koop, the former surgeon general, and Gore, wife of the then-vice president. The issue became an initiative after Roos, a former state assemblyman, approached Reiner after hearing the actor speak at the National Governors Association in 1997. They jointly introduced Prop. 10. At UCLA, early childhood specialists such as Neal Halfon, director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, helped create the school readiness centers that served as a model for First Five's investment of millions in such resource centers across the state. Reiner resigned as chair of the First Five Commission in March 2006 after a flap arose about his effort to pass a universal preschool initiative, but remains committed to the effort.

Eureka moment: Reiner told the Los Angeles Times that he first became interested in the issue when his analyst sister, Annie, suggested he explore his own formative years (as the kid of Hollywood luminary Carl Reiner) in therapy. The insight he gleaned triggered Reiner's interest in the emerging science of early childhood development.

— Kristine Breese '86