READERS ARE LEADERS

Children of the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, and Sussex, as well as the city of Emporia, were recently given the opportunity to participate in a week-long literacy event hosted by The Improvement Association’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) initiative. The event, known as Readers Are Leaders, is a community-wide literacy program developed and implemented by LaWanda Fisher, Program Coordinator for The Improvement Association’s PAT initiative, and her team of parent educators.

“The Readers Are Leaders program was developed with three goals in mind,” said Fisher. “The first goal is to promote literacy. The second goal is to encourage parents to read more to their children, and the third is to encourage children to read more. We really try to promote book sharing with all the children within our service area, not just those enrolled in the PAT program.”
The Readers Are Leaders program debuted during The Week of the Young Child, which was celebrated April 11-15. Fisher organized several notable community figureheads to read at various locations throughout the service areas.

On Monday, April 11, Dr. Al Roberts, President of Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), visited the children of Saint Paul’s Head Start and Child Development Center (CDC) in Brunswick County. On this day “History met History.” The first African American president of SVCC read to the children on the campus of St. Paul’s College, a historically black college. The Improvement Association kept St. Paul’s name affiliation for the child development center in efforts to maintain the legacy of St. Paul’s College.

On Tuesday, April 12, Brunswick County Sheriff B. K. Roberts visited Country Mouse Nursery School in Lawrenceville.

Also on Tuesday, April 12, Waverly Mayor Mariam Edwards visited the Head Start students at Wakefield ABC. “It makes my heart feel good to be involved with the young people. On behalf of the Town of Waverly, we thank The Improvement Association for allowing us to be a part of our future leaders”, stated Ms. Edwards.

On Wednesday, April 13, Mr. Williams Ricks, of The Improvement Association’s Project Discovery program in Sussex County, visited the children attending the Head Start program at Sussex Elementary.

Emporia Police Chief Rick Pinksaw visited children at two classrooms at Elnora Jarrell Worship Center Daycare on Thursday, April 14.

Greensville Sheriff Tim Jarrett also two classrooms at Footprints Daycare and Nursery in Emporia on Friday, April 15.

At Shiloh Baptist Church, home of The Improvement Association’s Head Start Shiloh location, Mr. Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist for the Greensville and Emporia area, read to the children participating in the Head Start program on Friday, April 15.

Parents as Teachers is a FREE program for parents and guardians of children from birth up to five years old. PAT helps caretakers understand their role in encouraging their child’s development. It helps children prepare for Kindergarten and ensures they are meeting developmental milestones, as well as passing hearing and vision screenings. Parent Educators also provide information on prenatal health to encourage intellectual development, curiosity, and language development.

One on the main components of PAT is to provide families with books to read with, and to, their children. During the week-long Readers Are Leaders event, 160 books were distributed to the children. The PAT initiative is currently accepting book donations for the next Readers Are Leaders event to be tentatively scheduled in the fall.

“I’d like to encourage individuals, churches, area businesses, and social and civic groups to participate,” said Fisher. Books can be dropped off at any of The Improvement Association’s four office locations in Emporia, Dinwiddie, Lawrenceville, or Waverly. If your agency or organization would like to set up a donation center, please contact LaWanda Fisher at (434) 634-2490 ext. 227 for additional information.

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