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Help Detroit Kids Read & Play

A while back Future Midwest inspired me and I got angry at the portrayal of Detroit from Chris Hansen and Dateline. Since then, I’ve been working behind the scenes, researching, and meeting with people who are making a difference in Detroit.

Through Detroit Moxie and in my daily life, I’ve found that people want to help, they want to volunteer but sometimes they just don’t know where to go or how to get involved.

Over the next few months I’m going to feature different programs and opportunities that all of us can participate in. Detroit isn’t going to bounce back in a day; it’s going to take time. It’s time to start doing something now.

First up, is the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and today I’m going to tell you about two ways you can start doing something positive.

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan focuses on three building blocks: education, income, and basic needs.

Education and reading are near and dear to me so that is what I wanted to focus on. I had the opportunity to talk to Rodd Monts who heads The Reading Village program.

From their website:

By ensuring children have access to literacy opportunities daily, as well as supporting the entire family as other issues arise, we can provide the best possible environment for a child to learn and grow. Without it, many children will not enter school ready to learn and only two percent will ever graduate from college.

  • 90 percent of the brain develops in the first three years of life.
  • Approximately 50 percent of children aren’t adequately prepared to enter Kindergarten.
  • Over 30 schools in our region have dropout rates of 40% or more.
  • Children who are born at a low birth weight have only a 48% chance of literary success.

The Reading Village partners low-income families in the tri-county area with a Reading Navigator. They work with all low-income families but are particularly focused on children born with a low birth rate (less than 5.5 lbs).

The program ensures that each child will have an “everyday reader” who will read to them for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The children also receive one book a week along with other learning materials.

Do you read to your kids everyday before bedtime? Well, that isn’t the case in every home.

By the end of the six-month program the children have a well-equipped library and the love of reading has been established in the household.

So how can you get involved?

The Reading Navigators will work with the families by developing a literacy plan in the home and making sure that their basic needs are met. This takes a commitment of 2-4 hours a week.

Yeah, that’s a big commitment but it also has a huge reward. You get to see the progress that these children make and watch them fall in love with books and reading.

They are looking at expanding the program and more Reading Navigators may be needed soon. If you are interested let me know or contact Rodd Monts.

Want to get your hands dirty?

I first came in contact with the United Way through their webmaster extraordinaire, Ursula Adams. Ursula is turning 40 this year (and you know how I feel about 40th birthdays) and instead of asking for lavish gifts she’s helping to build a playground in Detroit.

Yep, she’s giving kids in the area the chance to swing as high as their imagination takes them and play in a safe area. I think that’s pretty awesome.

My husband and I will be there on July 24th helping to build the playground. Will you? Register here to volunteer.

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Reader Comments (2)

Thank you SO much for spreading the good word! I am SO looking forward to spending my 40th birthday with you, your husband and (hopefully) your awesome readers!

June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUrsula

You're very welcome! I'm signed up and my husband is going to be a build captain. I've also heard word that other readers & friends are signing up!

June 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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