#Providenciales, August 21, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – ULiteracy is a problem in the Turks and Caicos Islands but this summer reading and reading well were helped by a debut INITIATIVE for the new UnitedWayTCI, which held a Summer Reading Buddy program.
“This is just an awesome program and we were excited throughout the entire six weeks,” explained Claudine Ewing who added that, “When kids are on summer break they tend to just wanna play games or watch TV and then when they get back to school in September, they can’t even remember a word or anything that they have even done for Summer. So, we decided that we wanted to do a reading program.”
Seventeen children signed up and each received an adult reading buddy; that buddy would supervise the children in their school-break reading.
“We wanted kids to get excited about books, some of them didn’t really have an opportunity to go on vacation so some of the books took them on vacation, the reading journey. Someone is taking the time out to make sure that they are reading. Parents are very busy, let’s give the parents a break sometimes.”
A reading camp was the culmination of the six-week Summer Reading Buddy program; the camp was held at the Providenciales Library.
The education and enjoyment were not one-sided in this first-time initiative. Readers impressed their adult buddies, who used words like ‘amazing’ to describe the children with whom they were paired.
“I got to learn that sometimes, when you take your time with kids, you begin to understand them even more. I had an amazing reader, she just loves reading and when I first started with her, I noticed that she would read but non-stop. So, what we are in the process of doing right now is (reading with) punctuations. So, when you see a full stop, a question mark, a comma, you must pause a little and then read on,” said LaTanja Knowles, UnitedWayTCI.
Champion reader, ten-year-old Danya Russell explained that it made her happy to see other children with an interest in reading.
“It was fun because reading is something that I like to do in my leisure time and reading is basically about comprehending what you read and I like to comprehend because I like to learn different things. So, for me, when you put those two things together, its just like fun all day because I love to read.”
A sacrifice of time hardly seemed like a sacrifice at all when we spoke to the volunteers. At the library, you could see the true delight and enthusiasm about reading from the boys and girls gathered there. Some 40 sentences were created by the youngsters, using coloured cards featuring everyday words and punctuation.
No electronic devices were necessary in this environment; it was a stark and welcomed difference explained parents who were also in attendance for the UnitedWay TCI Summer Reading Budding closing ceremony.
“I want to say thank you to our executive director, Ms. Claudine Ewing and her outstanding team for her vision for pursuing this reading program. To the parents who allowed their kids to participate in the program, we want to say ‘thank you’. Readers, without you this program would not have been successful, congratulations, well done and we wish you well,” said Hillary Higgs, UnitedWay TCI director in the vote of thanks.
A huge thank you went out to Stanley Williams, owner of Hertz Rent a Car who gave a handsome donation of $50 per child; the money purchased gift certificates for shopping at Business Solutions. Each child was presented with a gift certificate to assist in purchasing their back to school supplies.