Thursday, October 08, 2009

Read For The Record

"We’ve found out that one in three kids, when they go to school, have never been read to," said Kathy Hurley, Senior Vice-President Strategic Partnerships for The Pearson Foundation. "And this is going to affect them their entire life. So, we really believe in early literacy."

The "Read For The Record" Program was underway for the 4th consecutive year. National Park again one of the venues this morning to get parents, professionals, servicemen and servicewomen, along with volunteers from all over the world, to read the very same book to pre-schoolers, on the very same day: October 8th, 2009. An awareness opportunity to get the word out that education success begins in a child's early years--not after kindergarten begins.

The goal today to set a new world's record of over 1 million kids and adults reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle.

"'Live to Learn' is our motto," believes Ms. Hurley. "And with our partners we are truly taking that to heart."

Since 2006, Pearson, The USO and United Through Reading have partnered with Jumpstart, to hold group readings throughout the United States. The USO providing facilities, both in country and abroad, which allow serving military personnel to be involved remotely from their stationed bases. Our Washington Nationals supplying the setting and reading volunteers in the Nation's Capital for the third consecutive year.

“The USO decided a couple of years ago that we really wanted to do a big push on literacy for children," stated Steven Missimer, Vice-President Operations Programs & Services USO. "Specifically, military children. A lot of our kids are dealing with separation from their parents who are deployed and this is just another way for them to stay connected because we are also a partner with United Through Reading and that gives our deployed members an opportunity to record a book for their child when they are about to be deployed, or while they are deployed with their units. That book, the DVD, is then packaged up and we send it back home to the families. The spouse can then put it in the DVD player and they can see their Mom or Dad on TV reading the book to them.”

Sally Zoll, CEO--United Through Reading: "So, if you are in a tent in Iraq or Afghanistan, or a ship in The Gulf Of Aden, and you want to read a storybook to your child--we provide the opportunity for you to do just that. What we do is provide opportunities for families that are separated to read aloud together--in order to get that warm loving situation."

"The response has been awesome. In fact, great!" smiled Mr. Missimer.

The Pearson Foundation has raised over $4 Million for Jumpstart and donated over 300,000 books to pre-schoolers. The USO has recorded over 50,000 DVD's for families. And now produces over 3,700 readings by military personnel to their children each month. United Through Reading provides the bond bringing all these worthwhile groups together along with Our Washington Nationals.

Through USO Centers, School Districts, Governments and venues like Nationals Park, Pre-Schoolers were all read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" this day. On South Capitol Street this morning, Team President Stan Kasten lead off the program with introductory remarks, followed a few minutes later by Bettina Deynes (Vice-President of Human Resources for The Nationals) and Brian van de Graaf (Meteorologist from ABC 7) reading the book to the children. Deynes in Spanish, van de Graaf in English.

30 uniformed service members, many representing The United States Air Force, were on hand at Nationals Park today to participate. The children came from Fort Meade in Maryland and The District of Columbia. Other group reading sessions took place this morning in Fairfax County and The City of Alexandria in Virginia, as well as Prince Georges, Anne Arundel & Baltimore Counties in Maryland.

After the reading was completed, the program was far from over. Thanks to Our Washington Nationals Front Office Staff volunteering, baseball skills sessions were taught on the playing field at Nationals Park--hitting off a tee, running the bases, throwing a pitch, and catching a baseball all included. At the same time, three more reading stations were set up in the rotation--two in the outfield and one in the Visitors Dugout.

“Anything centered around reading is worthwhile," concluded Kathy Hurley. "We want to make sure that the kids are going to be successful throughout their lives and early reading is so important. Yes, it’s about literacy, but it’s also about getting the kids outside and learning in a fun atmosphere. And what's more fun than having young kids play on a baseball field and being educated at the same time."

PS--Of course, My Best Friend!! Screech!! was there as well, having a good time with all the kids in attendance.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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