When coming up with ideas for a Civic Engagement Project, most of my ideas stemmed from my want to help young children in my community. My project came from an epiphany I had while thinking about areas in my community that need help. “Go back to your elementary school (Bond Elementary School) and start there” my mind told me.
So, that’s what I did. I walked the halls of a school I used to attend and surveyed my old teachers (or at least the ones that still work there) on what the problem areas were for the students. Of the various responses, the most striking was when a teacher told me that there are 1st graders who are reading on a Pre-K reading level. The lack of advancement was not due to the children not having the want to read, it was due to them not having enough resources or encouragement outside of school hours to further their education. Bond Elementary School, the school I will be volunteering with, is a Title 1 (Part A) school. This means that the school receives special funding because majority of students are from low-income areas. In turn, Leon County Schools strives to prepare students to become responsible, respectful independent learners equipped with the critical thinking skills necessary to compete in our global society. And so, it was born. This semester, I had the opportunity to go to Bond Elementary School and aid the young children in their journey to learn how to read. In addition to that, I was able to be a mentor to them, be someone to encourage them and just be a friend to them. Hopefully, this will not only give them the gift of opening themselves to the wonderful world of books, but also show them that someone cares about them and their success.
At the very heart of who I am, I am a communicator. Whether it be written, verbal or nonverbal, I always strive to communicate. From an early age, learning to read was a huge part of how I learned to communicate. Pursuing both Communications and English degrees, I have found that my want to teach others to communicate is even bigger than my want to learn how to. Giving a child the power to read is giving them access to a new world of endless possibilities.
People may or may not always actively notice (haha), but words are everywhere! It absolutely breaks my heart to think that there are children who don’t know how to read. They were truly missing out on something so grand. I am beyond blessed to have been able to be a part of their literary journey. I truly hope that I have been able to leave my mark on the children of Bond Elementary School, they surely have left theirs on me.